SMArt Talks

’Hungarian Indians’? Race and Colonialism in Hungarian ‘Indian Play’

Zoltán Ginelli

The lecture took place on  15 March 2023 in the Hans Belting Library

Whatch the lecture recording

Zoltán Ginelli is a geographer and global historian at the University of Public Service in Budapest, Hungary. He follows a world-systemic and decolonial approach to study the global history of Hungarian coloniality and the relations between Eastern Europe and the Global South. In 2021, he co-curated the exhibition ‘Transperiphery Movement’. Currently, he is finishing his book ‘The Global Histories of the Quantitative Revolution’ and a co-written book on the global histories of Hungarian coloniality for Cambridge University Press.



Hungarian Indians’? Race and Colonialism in Hungarian ‘Indian Play’

Critical literature on race and colonialism remains Westcentric and often ignores Eastern European positions. Hungary’s place within the global history of racial colonialism has been selectively interpreted, under-researched, or silenced. This talk shows how Hungarian ‘semiperipheral whiteness’, an in-between position of ‘not-quite-whites’ evading ‘white guilt’ complicates the global histories of ‘Indian play’: representing, comparing to, and identifying or performing as Native Americans by whites. The lecture then asks how this history informs the lack of critical engagement with the heritage of ‘Indian play’ in contemporary Hungarian culture amidst raging Western debates on cultural appropriation, ‘redfacing’, ‘white guilt’, and a decolonial politics increasingly captured by identity politics in neoliberal capitalism.

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