Balázs Trencsényi

Contact information

Building: 
Nador u. 11
Room: 
110
Phone: 
+36 1 327-3000 x 2302

I am a historian of East Central European political and cultural thought. In many ways, I am the product of the unique intellectual atmosphere of CEU, not only in institutional sense, but also in terms of representing the generation of Eastern European historians who came to maturity after 1989, seeking to transcend the traditional nation-centered frameworks of scholarship and to come to terms with the multiple layers of intertwining pasts in the region, placing all this into a common European framework. Both my Ph.D. dissertation (which sought to compare the Hungarian and British discourses of collective identity in the early-modern period, looking at the “discourses of nationhood” before modern nationalism) and my subsequent research on the discourses of historicity and national specificity in interwar Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary in the context of the changing European cultural and political atmosphere after 1918, were based on a synoptic perspective seeking to reconstruct the East Central European intellectual phenomena in a multi-layered comparative setting.

Taking the opportunity of this regional opening, and also assuming the task of facilitating the dialogue of historical traditions which apparently conflicted with each other, from the very beginning of my studies I aimed at developing a comparative and transnational expertise. Being situated in a peculiar regional framework of overlapping national projects, this trans-national embeddedness has a double direction: on the one hand, the need to compare and “negotiate” cases within the region and, on the other hand, to compare the region to Western European an global contexts. Thus, in the last decade and a half I participated in many research projects concerning the comparative history of Central and Southeast-European political discourses in a broader framework. The research ventures where I was among the initiators, such as Regional Identity Discourses in Central and Southeast Europe (1775-1945)We, the People: Visions of National Peculiarity and Political Modernities in the Europe of Small Nations; The Intellectual History of Patriotism and the Legacy of Composite States in East-Central EuropeRegimes of Historicity and Discourses of Modernity and Identity in East-Central, Southeast and Northern Europe, 1900-1945; and European Regions and Boundaries. A Conceptual History, broadened my horizons of comparative research and also gave me a rich experience of participating in and managing collaborative projects. My most formative experience of transnational research was the European Research Council project “Negotiating Modernity”: History of Modern Political Thought in East Central Europe (www.negotiating.cas.bg) which I coordinated for 5 years. The principal aim of this project was creating a synthetic overview of the history of modern political thought in East Central Europe based on a diachronic analysis especially sensitive to transnational discursive phenomena (e.g. the ideological traditions transcending national borders such as liberalism, socialism, conservatism, federalism), and being equally open to supra-national and sub-national (regional) frameworks, where different national projects were interacting. The first volume resulting from this project, History of Modern Political Thought in East Central Europe. Volume I: Negotiating Modernity in the “Long Nineteenth Century,” https://global.oup.com/academic/product/a-history-of-modern-political-thought-in-east-central-europe-9780198737148?cc=hu&lang=en& came out in March 2016.

As for teaching, I have been offering a series of courses drawing on the results of the transnational projects I have been involved in, such as mapping the period of ‘National Revivals’ in Central and Southeast-Europe, analyzing the emergence and modalities of  “Political Modernity” as well as the anti-modernist ideological trends of the interwar period. In addition, I have taught a number of classes linked to methodological questions, both on graduate and postgraduate levels, ranging from introductory courses on interdisciplinary methodologies, through one on the historiographical debates on ethnicity and nationhood in pre-modern and modern contexts, to the analysis of various paradigms of intellectual history that emerged in the region during the communist and post-communist periods. Last but not least, I have an interest in the history of alternative culture in the region and for years we have been offering with Gábor Klaniczay a course on counter-cultural movements in East-Central Europe during “late socialism”, which went beyond the conventional format of historical seminars and opened the classroom to multimedia (film screenings, music, theatre, exhibitions) sources.

Fellowships and Awards:

2014-2015 Fellow of Imre Kertész Kolleg, Friedrich Schiller Universität Jena (10 months)

2011 Elected member of Academia Europaea

2008-2013 European Research Council Starting Independent Researcher Grant (60 months)

2008 Associate Fellow of the project “Regimes of Historicity and Discourses of Modernity and Identity in East-Central, Southeast and Northern Europe, hosted by CAS Sofia (6 months)

2005 Junior Fellow at Collegium Budapest (for 3 months)

2004 “We the People” Junior Fellow at Collegium Budapest/CAS Sofia (6 months)

2003 International Visegrad Fund Research Grant (for 10 months)

2003 Central European University, Academic Excellence Award

2003 Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, Andrew W. Mellon-Fellowship (for 3 months)

2002 IWM, Vienna, Junior Visiting Fellowship (for 6 months)

2001 Centre for Advanced Study, Sofia, Associate Fellow of the NEXUS Project (for 10 months)

1999 British Council/Open Society Institute Scholarship Grant; University of Cambridge Visiting Fellowship (for 10 months)

1995 Nuffic Scholarship, for research at the Erasmus University, Rotterdam (for 6 months)

Selected Publications:

Monographs:

  • A politika nyelvei. Eszmetörténeti tanulmányok (The languages of politics. Studies in intellectual history) (Budapest: Argumentum, 2007).
  • A nép lelke. Nemzetkarakterológiai viták Kelet-Európában (The spirit of the people. Debates on national characterology in Eastern Europe) (Budapest: Argumentum, 2011).
  • The Politics of "National Character": A Study in Interwar East European Thought (Oxford: Routledge, 2012). http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415870764/
  • History of Modern Political Thought in East Central Europe. Volume I: Negotiating Modernity in the “Long Nineteenth Century” by Balázs Trencsényi, Maciej Janowski, Mónika Baár, Maria Falina, and Michal Kopeček (Oxford University Press, 2016)  https://global.oup.com/academic/product/a-history-of-modern-political-th...

Edited volumes:

  • Balázs Trencsényi, Dragoş Petrescu, Cristina Petrescu, Constantin Iordachi, and Zoltán Kántor eds., Nation-Building and Contested Identities: Romanian and Hungarian Case Studies (Budapest/Iaşi: Regio Books/Polirom, 2001)
  • Balázs Trencsényi and Michal Kopeček, eds., Discourses of Collective Identity in Central and Southeast Europe (1775-1945): Texts and Commentaries, Volume I: Late Enlightenment. Emergence of the Modern ‘National Idea’ (Budapest: CEU Press, 2006). http://www.ceupress.com/books/html/DiscoursesOfCollectiveIdentity.htm
  • Balázs Trencsényi and Michal Kopeček, eds., Discourses of Collective Identity in Central and Southeast Europe (1775-1945): Texts and Commentaries, Volume II: National Romanticism. The Formation of National Movements (Budapest: CEU Press, 2007).
  • Sorin Antohi, Balázs Trencsényi and Péter Apor eds., Narratives Unbound: Historical studies in Post-Communist Eastern Europe (Budapest: CEU Press, 2007). http://www.ceupress.com/books/html/NarrativesUnbound.htm
  •  Balázs Trencsényi and Márton Zászkaliczky, eds.,Whose Love of Which Country? Composite States, National Histories and Patriotic Discourses in Early Modern East Central Europe (Leiden: Brill, 2010). http://www.brill.com/whose-love-which-country
  • Mapping the Merry Ghetto. Musical Counter-Cultures in Eastern Europe, 1960-1990 Thematic issue of East Central Europe, 2011/1-2, ed. by Gábor Klaniczay and Balázs Trencsényi.
  • Coping with Plurality: Nationalist and Multinational Frames of Mind in East Central European Political Thought, 1878-1940. Thematic issue of East Central Europe, 2012/2-3, ed. by Maria Falina and Balázs Trencsényi.  https://ece.ceu.edu/node/33095
  • Anders Blomqvist, Constantin Iordachi, Balázs Trencsényi, eds., Hungary and Romania Beyond National Narratives: Comparisons and Entanglements (Berlin: Peter Lang, 2013). http://www.peterlang.com/index.cfm?event=cmp.ccc.seitenstruktur.detailse...
  • Diana Mishkova, Balázs Trencsényi, Marja Jalava, eds., "Regimes of Historicity" in Southeastern and Northern Europe. Discourses of Identity and Temporality, 1890-1945 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014). http://www.palgrave.com/page/detail/regimes-of-historicity-in-southeaste...
  • Diana Mishkova, Marius Turda, and Balázs Trencsényi, eds., Discourses of Collective Identity in Central and Southeast Europe (1775-1945): Texts and Commentaries, Volume IV: Anti-Modernism. Radical Revisions of Collective Identity (Budapest: CEU Press, 2014). http://www.ceupress.com/books/html/DiscoursesOfCollectiveIdentity.htm

Articles and book chapters:

  • “Conceptualizations of Statehood and Nationhood: The Hungarian Reception of Reason of State and the Political Languages of National Identity in the Early Modern Period,” in: East-Central Europe, vol 29. part 1-2., 2002 Autumn, pp. 1-26.
  • Constantin Iordachi and Balázs Trencsényi:In Search of a Usable Past: The Question of National Identity in Romanian Studies, 1990-2000,” East European Politics and Societies (2003/3), pp. 415-453.
  • “Conceptual History and Political Languages: On the Central-European Adaptation of the Contextualist-Conceptualist  Methodologies of Intellectual History” in: Petr Roubal and Václav Veber, eds., Prague Perspectives. Studies in Central and Eastern Europe (Prague: Klementinum, 2004), 142-166.
  • Maciej Janowski, Constantin Iordachi, and Balázs Trencsényi: “Why Bother About Historical Regions? Debates Over Central Europe in Hungary, Poland and Romania,” in: East Central Europe, 2005/1-2., pp. 5-58.
  • László Kontler and Balázs Trencsényi: “Hungary,” in: Glenn Burgess, Howell Lloyd, Simon Hodson, eds., Religion, Law and Philosophy: European Political Thought, 1450-1700 (New Haven: YaleUniversity Press, 2008), pp. 176-207.
  • “History and Character: Visions of National Peculiarity in the Romanian Political Discourse of the Nineteenth-Century,” in: Diana Mishkova, ed., “We, The People” –Politics of National Peculiarity in Southeast Europe (Budapest: CEU Press, 2009), pp. 139-178.
  • “Patriotism and elect nationhood in early modern Hungarian political discourse,” in Balázs Trencsényi and Márton Zászkaliczky, eds.,Whose Love of Which Country? Composite States, National Histories and Patriotic Discourses in Early Modern East Central Europe (Leiden: Brill, 2010), pp. 495-543.
  • “Imposed Authenticity: Approaching Eastern European National Characterologies in the Interwar Period,” in Central Europe, Vol. 8 No. 1, May, 2010, pp. 20–47.
  • “Writing the Nation and Reframing Early Modern Intellectual History in Hungary,” in: Studies in East European Thought 62, 2010, pp. 135-154.
  • “The Conceptualization of National Character in the Romanian Intellectual Tradition,” in Armin Heinen, Victor Neumann, eds., Key Concepts of Romanian History. Alternative Approaches to Socio-Political Languages (CEU Press, 2013), pp. 333-376.
  • “Civilization and Originality: Perceptions of History and National Specificity in Nineteenth-Century Hungarian Political Discourse” in Guido Abbattista, ed., Encountering Otherness. Diversities and Transcultural Experiences in Early Modern European Culture (Trieste: Trieste University Press, 2011), pp. 305-338.
  • “Relocating Ithaca: Alternative Antiquities in Modern Bulgarian Political Discourse,” in Gábor Klaniczay and Michael Werner, eds., Multiple Antiquities - Multiple Modernities: Ancient Histories in Nineteenth Century European Cultures (Frankfurt: Campus Verlag, 2011), 247-278.
  • “Balkans Baedecker for Übermensch Tourists: Janko Janev’s Popular Historiosophy,” in Stefan Berger, Chris Lorenz, Billie Melman eds., Popularizing National Pasts. 1800 to the Present (London: Routledge, 2012), pp. 149-168.
  • Diana Mishkova, Bo Stråth, and Balázs Trencsényi, “Regional History as a ‘Challenge’ to the National Frameworks of Historiography: The Case of Central, Southeast, and Northern Europe,” in Matthias Middell and Lluis Roura y Aulinas, eds., World, Global and European Histories as Challenges to National Representations of the Past, vol. 4. of the Writing the Nation Series (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012).
  • “Afterlife or Reinvention? ‘National Essentialism’ in Romania and Hungary after 1945,” in Anders Blomqvist, Constantin Iordachi, Balázs Trencsényi, eds., Hungary and Romania Beyond National Narratives: Comparisons and Entanglements (Peter Lang, 2013), 515-568.
  • “Beyond Liminality? The Kulturkampf of the early 2000s in East Central Europe,” in Boundary2 (2014/1), 135-152.
  • “Transcending Modernity: Agrarian Populist Visions of Collective Regeneration in Interwar East Central Europe,” in Diana Mishkova, Balázs Trencsényi, Marja Jalava, eds., "Regimes of Historicity" in Southeastern and Northern Europe. Discourses of Identity and Temporality 1890-1945. (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), 119-145. 

Professional Activities:

2012-2014 Together with Diana Mishkova, convener of the project “European Regions and Boundaries. A Conceptual History,” hosted by the Centre for Advanced Study Sofia, supported by the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft.

2008-2013 Recipient of the European Research Council Starting Independent Researcher Grant as Principal Investigator of the project, “Negotiating Modernity”: History of Modern Political Thought in East-Central Europe,” over the period of five years, hosted by the Centre for Advanced Study Sofia in cooperation with CEU

2006-2009 Participant in Team 3: “National Histories and its Interrelation with Regional, European and World Histories” of the project “Representations of the Past: The Writing of National Histories in Europe” supported by the European Science Foundation

2006-2010 Coordinator (with P. Apor and C. Iordachi) of the “CEU-HESP Comparative History Project”.

2005-2007 Research Coordinator of the project, “The Intellectual History of Patriotism and the Legacy of Composite States in East-Central Europe,” supported by the CEU Research Board.

2003-2005 Research associate and co-author of the international research project, “We, the People,” bringing together East-Central and Northern-European researchers, launched by CAS Sofia.

2003-2004 Participating in the project "History and Identity in Central Europe in a Comparative and Inter-Disciplinary Perspective" supported by the International Visegrad Fund.

2001-05 Participating in the “Religion, Law and Philosophy: European Political Thought 1450-1700,” project.

2001 Founding member of the international research group “Regional Identity Discourses in Central and Southeast Europe (1775-1945),” supported by the Prince Bernhard Foundation (The Netherlands), and CAS Sofia

Co-organized international workshops and conferences in cooperation with Concepta. International Research School in Conceptual History and Political Thought; the University of Freiburg; Oslo University; New Europe College Bucharest; Princeton University; the Study Platform on Interlocking Nationalisms (Huizinga Institute, The Netherlands); the Centre for Advanced Study Sofia; EUI Florence; IWM Vienna; EHESS Paris; Södertörn University College; ZVGE Berlin; and Sabancı University Istanbul.

Editor of the periodical East Central Europe (Brill Publishers) and co-editor of the Hungarian cultural monthly 2000. Acting as Board member of Concepta and peer-reviewer for the journals Totalitarian Movements and Political ReligionsJournal of Political Ideologies; European Review of History; Angelaki: journal of the theoretical humanitiesContributions to the History of Concepts; as well as for the European Research Council; the European Science Foundation, the Austrian Science Fund (FWF), the Council for the Humanities of the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research, The American Academy in Berlin, EURIAS, OTKA (Hungarian Scientific Research Fund), and the Agency for Science and Higher Education of the Republic of Croatia.

Qualification

Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary, MA in Philosophy, 1997
Invisible College, Budapest, Hungary, 1991-1997
Central European University, Budapest, Hungary, MA in Nationalism Studies, 1998
Central European University, Budapest, Hungary, Ph.D. in Comparative History, 2004

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