16th European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA) Biennial Conference: New anthropological horizons in and beyond Europe (20-24 July, Virtual Lisbon Conference)

Margit Feischmidt, Judit Durst and Nóra Kovács attended the 16th EASA Biennial Conference, EASA2020: New anthropological horizons in and beyond Europe (21-24 July 2020, Virtual Conference in Lisbon)

The abstract of Margit Feischmidt's paper:

About two years ago, at a similar plenary, Andre Gingrich ascertained that most of the core elements of a new nationalism defined in 2005 had by then emerged more clearly. As various recent papers claim, everyday discourses were signaling even before the appearance of the institutionalized forms of neo-traditionalism, neo-nationalism, and the far right that belonging – for certain groups and under certain circumstances – was beginning to be framed in ethno-racial terms, and was focused on Othering. Nevertheless, as Gingrich also mentioned, important features of new nationalism and the accompanying political phenomena had changed in the meantime: the neo-nationalist phenomenon was no longer primarily located only among those few “small and affluent” countries and losers of a globalizing world in which it had first re-emerged during the 1980s and 1990s. In its various forms, it had moved from the periphery to the centers of power and society.

What role does anthropology play in understanding these changes, the new and recurrent forms of nationalism, and the radical and mainstreaming practices of the far right, and evolving authoritarianism? This is the question that I will address, reflecting on certain points in the literature and my own work in this area. Connected to the main question, the role of anthropological methods and of ethnography especially will be examined, helping to reveal the specific status of theories premised on ethnographic and qualitative data. I’m interested in the way anthropology is participating in discussions about the nature, the causes, and the consequences of the nationalist and authoritarian turn in East-Central Europe, and how the learnings from the region enter global discussions.

Judit Durst: Transnational labor trade network between Hungary and Germany and the existential of the rural Hungarian poor

This paper explores the working of a transnational labor network across the border of Hungary and Germany, by shedding light on the role of informal staffing agents in recruiting those precariat laborers from Hungary who try to practice their "right to escape" (Mezzadra 2004) by "existential mobility" (Hage 2009). We show the different roles each agents play in this transnational labor trade network or migration industry which is an avenue of capital (Vertovec 1999). The paper also analyses the historical embeddedness of labor mobility of the rural Hungarian poor by drawing attention to the process of "interrupted continuity": how the long sedentary Hungarian poor (Roma and non Roma) became from weekly commuters during socialism, to transnationally mobile factory workers, after an intermittent period of "long term unemployment" due to the transition from state socialism to neoliberal capitalism in Hungary. The article aims to provide a close ethnographic portrait to interpret the currently most typical migration trajectory, the "guest work" providing to Chinese family restaurant owners and small entrepreneurs of Hungarian origins in the construction industry in German towns. Building on the inspirational work of anthropologists and mobility scholars who propose to resort to a global and multi-dimensional perspective on transnational movement when exploring cross border migration and its consequences, we have carried out during the last three years a multi-sited ethnography, both in the sending and in the destination localities, following our informants and their network on their movement from their homes in North Hungary to their German employers.

Nóra Kovács: Political aspects of return migration from Latin America to Hungary

The proposed paper discusses ethnic return migratory processes between Hungary and two Latin American countries, Argentina and Venezuela, with a special focus on how the Hungarian government made them serve its political purposes on the national and on the European level. These developments were, on the one hand, inseparable from recent shifts in the Hungarian government's policy towards minority and diaspora Hungarians living outside Hungary. On the other hand, these migratory patterns were shaped by the democratic transition in Central and Eastern Europe making space for diasporic return migration; and were intensified by economic crises (Argentina, early 2000s; Venezuela 2010s) and by the subsequent social insecurity there. The paper provides two examples to compare and contrast the reception and use of these two flows of diasporic return migration from Latin America to Hungary. There was visible affinity between the values and cultural practices the spontaneous diasporic return migration from Argentina and the Hungarian government's ethno political ambitions at the turn of the millennium. Particular connection is drawn between the deliberate, systematic yet subtle dissemination of the subversive and academically questionable Hungarian ethno political world view developed by a self-made historian returnee from Argentina and the recent dramatic populist turn in official Hungarian cultural politics. The second migratory pattern has taken the form of a still ongoing, informally organized, state assisted yet unpublicized immigration program for Venezuelan migrants of Hungarian descent, filling up Hungary's official European quota of refugees to be received.