Chris Hann How Is Nostalgia Felt in Post-Socialist Hungary?

Chris Hann is Founding Director of the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle, Germany, as well as Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Oslo, Norway. Furthermore, he is an Honorary Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Kent at Canterbury, the University of Leipzig as well as the Martin-Luther-University, Halle Wittenberg. Hann’s main areas of interest include economic organization, property relations, and religion. In geographic terms, he has been focusing this research on the areas of rural Hungary and Poland, Turkey and Yinjiang.

Area of Research

Economic Organization, Religion, Civil Society, Ethnicity and Nationalism

Chris Hann. "The Anthropocene and Anthropology. Micro and Macro Perspectives." European Journal of Social Theory (2016): 1368431016649362.  
Chris Hann. "The Heart of the Matter." Current Anthropology 55 (2014): 182-192.  
Chris Hann. "Backwardness Revisited: Time, Space, and Civilization in Rural Eastern Europe." Comparative Studies in Society and History 57 (2015): 881-911.  
Chris Hann. "Introduction: Nations and Nationalism, Societies and Socialism, Fields and Wars." In The Anthropological Field on the Margins of Europe, 1945-1991, edited by Chris Hann and Aleksander Boskovic. Berlin: LIT, 2013: 1-28.  
Chris Hann. "(Kultur-)Kämpfe der Gegenwart - Deutschland, Ukraine, Europa, Eurasien." In Das Unbehangen an der Kultur, edited by Ingo Schneider and Martin Sexl. Hamburg: Argument, 2015: 157-179.  

since 2013

Professor of Social Anthropology

University of Oslo

since 2012


International Max Planck Research School for the Anthropology, Archaeology and History of Eurasia (ANARCHIE)

since 1999


Max Planck Society (more details)

Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology


Professor of Social Anthropology

University of Kent at Canterbury


Assistant Lecturer, then Lecturer in Social Anthropology

University of Cambridge

Fellow of Corpus Christi College and Director of Studies in Social and Political Sciences and Social Anthropology


Research Fellow

Corpus Christi College, Cambridge


Language Editor

New Hungarian Quarterly, Budapest


Social Science Research Council Studentship

University of Cambridge

Subsumes in 1975-1977: Two Years of Fieldwork in Hungary, Supported by British Council Exchange Scholarship



University of Cambridge

Thesis "The Socio-Economic Structure of a Community on the Great Hungarian Plain"


Bachelor in Politics, Philosophy and Economics

University of Oxford

- Association of Social Anthropologists

- British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies

- European Association of Social Anthropologists

- German Anthropological Association

- Polish Sociological Association

- Royal Anthropological Institute


- Royal Anthropological Institute, Rivers Memorial Medal (2015)

- Royal Anthropological Institute, Curl Prize Essay (1991)


- Fellow, Institut d’Études Avancées, Nantes (2013-2014)

- Ordentliches Mitglied, Berlin-Brandenburg Akademie der Wissenschaften (since 2008)

- Fellow of the World Academy of Rusyn Culture (since 2007)

- Honorary Member of the Hungarian Ethnological Society (since 2005)

- Honorary Professor, Martin-Luther-University, Halle-Wittenberg (since 2000)

- Honorary Professor, University of Leipzig (since 2000)

- Honorary Professor, University of Kent at Canterbury (since 1999)

- Fellow, Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin (1997-1999)

- British Council Hungarian Exchange Scholarship (1975-1977)

- Lazard Scholarship, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge (1975)

- SSRC Postgraduate Studentships (1974-1975 and 1977-1979)

- Welsh Foundation Scholarship, Jesus College, Oxford (1971-1974)

© Maximilian Dörrbecker

Max Planck Society

"The Max Planck Society is Germany's most successful research organization. Since its establishment in 1948, no fewer than 18 Nobel laureates have emerged from the ranks of its scientists, putting it on a par with the best and most prestigious research institutions worldwide. The more than 15,000 publications each year in internationally renowned scientific journals are proof of the outstanding research work conducted at Max Planck Institutes – and many of those articles are among the most-cited publications in the relevant field." (Source)


Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology

"The Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology is one of the world’s leading centres for research in socio-cultural anthropology. It was established in 1999 by Chris Hann and Günther Schlee, and moved to its permanent buildings on Advokatenweg 36 in Halle/Saale in 2001. Marie-Claire Foblets joined the Institute as its third Director in 2012. Common to all research projects at the Max Planck Institute is the comparative analysis of social change; it is primarily in this domain that its researchers contribute to anthropological theory, though many programmes also have applied significance and political topicality. Fieldwork is an essential part of almost all projects. More than 175 researchers work at the Institute, the great majority in one of its three Departments: ‘Law & Anthropology’ (Foblets); ‘Resilience and Transformation in Eurasia’ (Hann); ‘Integration and Conflict’ (Schlee). The Institute’s Library, the Research Coordination Unit, the IT Department and administrative staff assist the researchers in their work. The Institute has its own Guesthouse, and organises regular seminars and international conferences. It cooperates closely with anthropologists and other colleagues at the Martin Luther University, Halle-Wittenberg, and at the University of Leipzig" (Source)


Due to the current dire economic situation in Hungary many feel nostalgic about a time in their nation’s history when jobs were more secure. Young Hungarians, despite being highly qualified, have trouble finding work in their home country as well as in Europe. This led to high votes for the nationalist parties in the elections of 2014, who promise a return to the time of the great Austro-Hungarian Empire. This phenomenon can be observed specifically in the rural areas which have felt the effects of the introduction of capitalism and the opening towards the West more strongly. In this video, CHRIS HANN explains that the discipline of Social Anthropology, and the method of participant observation, allow researchers to understand exactly how and why nostalgia is felt in contemporary Hungary. It revealed that there is a difference between nostalgia in the private space of people’s homes versus in the public domain. Publicly, Hungarians are encouraged to feel nostalgia for the times of the Austro-Hungarian Empire whereas privately many do for the more recent socialist time, when especially economically deprived parts of society felt more integrated and less ostracized.

LT Video Publication DOI:

Why Post-Imperial Trumps Post-Socialist: Crying Back the National Past in Hungary

  • Chris Hann
  • Anthropology and Nostalgia
  • Published in 2015
Chris Hann. "Why Post-Imperial Trumps Post-Socialist: Crying Back the National Past in Hungary." In Anthropology and Nostalgia New York/Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2015: 96-123.