Symposium “Gender Language Politics”

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesOrganisation and participation in conferences, workshops, courses, seminars


Ágnes Heller vs. Orbán government: a gendered debate on cultural populism

Abstract: Emilia Palonen (University of Helsinki, Finland, Ágnes Heller vs. Orbán government: a gendered debate on cultural populism We are used to discussing populism as an ideology, but if it is not merely an ideology behind nominally populist parties. A better picture can be seen through ‘populist dynamics’. The aim of Jobbik and Fidesz is to mainstream ideas of Hungarianness that by creating a contrast to multiculturalism and Europeanness, anti-liberalism and anti-intellectualism, and through that establish an idea of Hungary and what is it to be Hungarian, as an empty shell to be filled with particular content. An emblematic figure of this criticism became Ágnes Heller, a transnational Hungarian Jewish female philosopher. Based on research of newspaper reporting (EMIS archive of Hungarian newspapers), this paper looks at the way in which she was involved in the scandal around philosophers in the beginning of the second term of Fidesz government, and how she responded to the problem. It explores what the debate has got to do with gender and how it mirrors gendered representations in Fidesz rhetoric. It explores also Heller’s own position that it was an anti-semitic attack. Especially following the ultimately unfounded allegations, extreme right populism, alongside the illiberal democratic measures of Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz government, is the target of the Hungarian philosopher Ágnes Heller’s rhetoric. She counterbalances it with a picture of a more inclusive Europe, and articulates her own position as a Hungarian Jewish intellectual. The research is based in the understanding of ‘populist dynamics’ drawing from Ernesto Laclau’s theory. It particularly explores the notion of cultural populism – as a populist dynamic.
Period22 Oct 201523 Oct 2015
Event typeOther
SponsorUniversität Wien
LocationVienna, AustriaShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational