Interview with Iván Szelényi--January 21, 2017, Part I

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Interview with Iván Szelényi--January 21, 2017, Part I
Iván Szelényi (Interviewee)
Holly Case (Interviewer)
Date Created
Interview with Iván Szelényi, William Graham Sumner Emeritus Professor of Sociology at Yale University and Foundation Dean of Social Sciences at NYU Abu Dhabi. He has also taught at UCLA, the CUNY Graduate Center, and the University of Wisconsin, Madison. The interview was conducted in Budapest, Hungary, on January 21, 2017. Szelényi is the author of many books and the recipient of as many prizes and distinctions. Among his most prominent publications is The Intellectuals on the Road to Class Power, which he co-authored with György Konrád (and which first appeared in 1979); Making Capitalism without Capitalists (With Gil Eyal and Eleanor Townsley), published by Verso in 1998 and translated into several languages; Privatizing the land: Rural Political Economy in Post-Communist Societies, also from 1998; Theories of the New Class – Intellectuals and Power (with Larry King) from 2004, and Poverty and Social Structure in Transitional Societies: The First Decade of Post-Communism (from 2013). PART 1 - Interview Themes 00:00 Family background: bourgeois family from Késmark 02:00 Family politics: Horthy, Trianon as a source of political radicalism, Nyilas party 07:00 Political conviction of Szelényi’s father, radicalization 09:00 Trianon, exposure to nationalist discourses 11:00 1948: Six-month trip to the Netherlands as a ten-year old through the Calvinist church 12:00 Dutch trip and stay in a Dutch family’s home; trip formative for the formation of Szelényi’s political views 14:00 Dutch host family; Hungarian fixation on noble background vs. Dutch attitudes 17:00 Identification as a “transnational,” American, and Hungarian 19:00 The siege of Budapest, experiences with the Red Army, Rózsadomb, Kapy utca in 1944 23:00 The siege, interaction with soldiers 24:00 Impact of literature teacher in formation of left and liberal, humanitarian ideas 26:00 Influential books, classmates, friends, Ferenc Litván, György Litván, József Litván, Károly Szendi 30:00 Diversity of friends’ backgrounds 31:00 1950s: left-liberal views solidified, non-communist, ”lefty” 34:30 Endorsement of Bernie Sanders 36:00 Humanism as political conviction; Political views did not change 40:00 Experience of reading many novels during adolesence, Thomas Mann, Dostoevsky, Ibsen, Hungarian poetry 47:00 The artist Lili Országh 50:00 Training as an urban sociologist, András Hegedűs 52:00 Ford fellowship at Columbia University and Berkeley, 1964-1965 54:00 George Konrád 56:00 Empirical research on newly built housing estates with Konrád 58:00 Overrepresentation of cadres in new socialist block apartments


"Interview with Iván Szelényi--January 21, 2017, Part I" (2017). East-Central Europe Past and Present. Brown Digital Repository. Brown University Library.



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    This blog features interviews with scholars of East-Central and Southeastern Europe (including the Ottoman Empire and Turkey), Russia and the Soviet Union in which they offer their views on the past, present and future of the region. It also includes ...