Nesting Orientalisms: The Case of Hungary, Its Imaginary Occidentalisation Process and Inconsistencies

  • Abstract:

    What is the border between central and eastern Europe? This is an unanswered question in the literature of contemporary European history and politics. In the modern state system, imaginary boundaries are products of the imagined communities, and these boundaries also cause either to occidentalize or to orientalize the lands due to its top-down/elitist imagination procedure. During the Cold War years, rebellions against the USSR are important cases to see the certain demand for Europeanization among people in today’s central Europe where especially had the communist legacy. In general, the ultimate goal is to identify themselves as more western among central and eastern European states for the sake of civilizational values of the Enlightenment and to reach today’s neoliberal welfare which is contested. This desire causes nesting orientalisms, in Milica Bakic-Hayden’s concept. Nesting orientalisms are about re-constructing new orient in the same region to hierarchize itself as occidental. Through the process of mapping its location and construction of occidental identity, Hungary defines itself as a part of central Europe. But what are the legitimated reasons of Hungary to define itself as central European instead of eastern Europe? Do these reasons perfectly fit in today’s central European formulation and stereotype? What are the possible reasons to reject Hungary’s central European self-definition? Moreover, under the shadow of the discussion on central Europe vs. eastern Europe, to what extent does the rise of authoritarianism block ongoing occidentalisation process of Hungary? In this research, I will answer these questions by analyzing modern political history of Hungary by the method of interpretivist process tracing.