Grand Delusions: Interwar Hungarian Cultural Diplomacy, 1918-1941 Public Deposited

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  • March 19, 2019
  • Nagy, Zsolt
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of History
  • This dissertation examines the development of interwar Hungarian cultural diplomacy, concentrating on efforts in three areas: academia, the tourist industry, and motion picture and radio production. In the post-Versailles era new and old European states faced the challenge of creating or revising their respective national identities. They also forged images of their respective nations for various foreign audiences. In Hungary, the significance of international public opinion became painfully apparent only after the First World War when the victorious Allies granted 71.5 percent of the country's territory to its neighbors. In order to secure Hungary's status as a proper European nation and to gain invaluable international support for its foreign policy aims--the revision of the Trianon Treaty and international recognition of the Hungarian state--the Hungarian political elite devised an all-encompassing cultural diplomatic campaign. In cooperation with the country's intellectual and industrial elite, they mobilized and deployed the country's cultural capital--real and imagined--in order to influence international public opinion. The Hungarian leadership viewed cultural diplomatic efforts as a continuation of war by other means. While the main focus of this study is Hungary, this dissertation also offers a transnational view of interwar cultural diplomacy. First, interwar Hungarian cultural diplomacy was influenced by and carried out in competition with other East and East-Central European nations. Second, these efforts were part of a larger, nearly universal, phenomenon whereby nations large and small sought to sway international public opinion. While domestic discussions about Hungarianness vis-&agrave-vis Europeanness had a crucial effect on the image they tried to construct, models and information provided by other countries also played an important role in the reorganization of Hungarian cultural production. Finally, changes in international relations also influenced the ways cultural diplomacy supplemented traditional diplomacy. In the end, this dissertation offers a different perspective on the interwar period by examining a small country's efforts to maneuver the uncertain terrain of post First World War international relations. It is a story of how Hungarian elites perceived, and misperceived, themselves, their surroundings, and their own ability to affect the country's fate amid high hopes and deep-seated anxieties about the country's place in a newly reconstructed Europe.
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Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Jarausch, Konrad Hugo
  • Raleigh, Donald
  • Jenkins, Robert
  • Bryant, Chad
  • McReynolds, Louise
  • Sherwood, Peter
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2012
  • This item is restricted from public view for 1 year after publication.

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