"Nationalist movements against financial nationalism? Forex debtors' activism and Hungary's new financial regime"

September 21, 2021

Online Talk by Agnes Gagyi during her research visit at the MPI for Social Anthropology

In September 2021, Emmy Noether Research Group Peripheral Debt is hosting Visiting Researcher Agnes Gagyi. Agnes is a researcher at the Department of Sociology and Work Science, University of Gothenburg, specializing in East European politics and social movements from the perspective of the region’s long-term world-economic and geopolitical integration. Her recent publications include The political economy of middle class politics and the global crisis in Eastern Europe (Palgrave, 2021) and the collection The political economy of Eastern Europe 30 years into the "transition": New left perspectives from the region (co-edited with Ondrej Slacalek, Palgrave, 2021). During her stay, Agnes will work closely with Head of Research Group Marek Mikuš on joint publications and offer feedback to the work-in-progress of the doctoral candidates Balázs Gosztonyi and Mathias Krabbe. On 21 September 2021 from 16:00 to 17:30, she will also deliver an online talk entitled “Nationalist movements against financial nationalism? Forex debtors’ activism and Hungary’s new financial regime” (see the abstract below). The talk is open to everybody interested without pre-registration at the following link:

Abstract: Anthropological and political sociological research on Hungary’s illiberal transformation has emphasized a turn towards nationalist critiques of postsocialist neoliberalization in the ranks of lower middle class and workers as an important factor of support for Orbán’s politics. Based on in-depth research on the forex mortgage debtors’ movement that developed in the wake of a debt crisis after 2008, I wish to specify, and in some respects, contest these diagnoses. I argue that popular right-wing antineoliberalism was a heterogenous popular ideology with strong social claims, and that the penetration, cooptation and – in a next phase – silencing of these claims on the part of conservative elites needs to be understood not only in terms of ideological similarity between elite and popular politics, but also in terms of capitalist conflict and its management. Instead of a simple adding up of popular and elite right-wing tendencies, I will demonstrate how, in the case of forex mortgage debt and its state management, popular social claims were integrated into a shift towards an authoritarian management of capitalist crisis.

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