Wondering about the Republic

Open to the Public
Nador u. 9, Monument Building
Tuesday, October 18, 2011 - 10:30am
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Tuesday, October 18, 2011 - 10:30am to 6:00pm

Republic and Republicanism in regime transition . Hungary and Portugal in historical comparative perspective the transition of regimes

Last year, when the debate about the new Hungarian Constitution led to a re-evaluation of the concept of ‘Republic’, Portugal was organizing a massive celebration around the first centenary of their First Republic. Both events assumed a strong public dimension, and proved to be an opportunity to re-assess critically some concepts regarding the idea of ‘Republic’ and revisit the recent history of these two countries from a critical perspective.

In Portugal, the debate was around the legacy of the 1910-1926 regime, its revolutionary and ultra-republican features, its anti-Catholicism and the social outcomes of its progressive set of public policies, namely the ones that confronted the established social hierarchy of the Monarchy and the dominant role of the Church.

In Hungary, on the other hand, the political decision of withdrawing from the constitutional text the official ‘Republic’ denomination, triggered and framed the debate within the heritage of Hungarian republicanism as outlined in the 1989 transitional process, the legacy of the 1848-49 revolutionaries and the role of progressive intellectuals in recent Hungarian history.

As such, and beyond the specialties of such events, both countries recently faced an intellectual, conceptual and political confrontation with their recent history and with the memory of their republican legacy.

Understanding the significance of such current events, the Pasts, Inc. Center for Historical Studies at the Central European University and the Contemporary History Institute (IHC) at the New University of Lisbon (with the support of the Portuguese Embassy in Budapest and the Camões Institute) decided to summon researchers working in contemporary and comparative history from both countries and organize a conference to critically address and debate the legacy of the ‘Republic’ and republicanism in both countries.

“Wondering about the ‘Republic’. Republic and Republicanism in regime transition. Hungary and Portugal in historical comparative perspective” summarizes our intentions, as we deem to present different perspectives on the issue at hand.

As such, we elaborated a four-session program:

In the first session we will address the issues of the Politics of Memory. Maria Fernanda Rollo, one of the organizers of the Portuguese First Republic Centenary commemorations, will give her insights as a professional historian engaged in designing the Portuguese celebrations, after which Péter Apor (CEU) will critical appreciate the Hungarian case.

The second panel is dedicated to the role of intellectuals in regime transition, where the speakers will track down their ideological paths, political views and legacy. In this panel Balázs Trencsényi (CEU) will address the Hungarian case in a comparative, long-term historical perspective, while Luis Trindade (Birkbeck College, University of London) will follow the role of some intellectuals in the transition from the Portuguese Monarchy to the Republic.

After these two sessions, in the afternoon, we aim to explore the advent of new political actors within the post-monarchy frame, both in Portugal and Hungary. András Bozóki will present a lecture entitled: “Against the Current: Left-Liberal Intellectuals and the Rise of Authoritarianism in Hungary in the 1930s”. Alice Samara will then share her thoughts on the role of women within the new (Portuguese) Republic political landscape.

Last but not least, our final session will be dedicated to a critical panorama overview of our theme. In this panel the keynote lecture will be held by Iván Zoltán Dénes, addressing Hungary, followed by Fernando Rosas with an overview of the Portuguese XXth Century.



Session 1. (10.30 – 12.30)

“Politics of Memory: Celebrating and reinventing the past”

  • His Excellency, the Ambassador of Portugal to Hungary, Mr. António Jorge Mendes
  • Fernanda Rollo, Contemporary History Institute
  • Péter Apor, Central European University
  • (chair) José Reis Santos, Contemporary History Institute / Central European University

Coffee break

 Session 2 (12.30 – 14.00).

“Towards Regime change: Republican intellectuals on the turn of XXth Century in Portugal and Hungary”.

  • Balázs Trencsényi, Central European University
  • Luis Trindade, Birbeck College, University of London / Contemporary History Institute
  • (chair) Miklós Lojkó, Central European University

Lunch break

 Session 3 (15.00 – 16.30)

The advent of new political actors in peripheral Europe in the early decades of the XX century: Portugal and Hungary”

  • András Bozóki, Central European University
  • Alice Samara, Contemporary History Institute
  • (chair) Victor Karády, Central European University

Coffee break

Session 4 (16.30 – 18.00).

“Transition from constitutional monarchies in Portugal and Hungary. A critical panorama overview”

  • Iván Zoltán Dénes, István Bibó Center for Advanced Studies of Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Fernando Rosas, Contemporary History Institute
  • (chair) László Kontler, Central European University