The imperial shift of Soviet hegemony and Cold War politics in Hungarian geography: The “Markos school” of economic geography

Room F
Tuesday, 1 September 2015
17.15 – 19.00
Cold War, economic geography, György Markos, Marxism-Leninism

As in many European countries, in Hungary, World War II brought a permanent rupture in the production of geographical knowledge, as geography experienced the collapse of a national-conservative regime and a shift towards a Sovietized communist regime. Elucidating the transformative period of 1945-49 and the 1950s is key to understanding the scope and effects of this regime change in the production of knowledge. This decisive break meant the dissolution of the Hungarian Geographical Society in 1949, and its problematic resurrection from 1952. This paper will follow the sociology of scientific knowledge to conceptualize the effects of the Soviet empire’s science policy on restructuring the local agendas and knowledge production of Hungarian economic geography, with a specific focus on local conflicts, rhetorical battles and strategies of intellectual power struggles between the new cadres and the “old guard”. In this context, the study will aim to unravel the biography of György Markos, who was summoned at this time as a political journalist to become an economic geographer and high-ranking member of the Society. His “revolutionary” and controversial personality is rather intriguing, as he was prominent in enforcing the adaptation of Marxist-Leninist ideologies, and with his students consolidated a narrowly empirical economic geography, which had a long-lasting effect even into postsocialism. This study builds on previously untouched archival materials in order to decipher the untold story of this decisive period, and to situate these local intellectual and political agendas of Hungarian economic geography in a wider Cold War context.

Zoltán Ginelli (Gyimesi)
Eötvös Loránd University, Department of Social and Economic Geography
zginelli [at]

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