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Whiteness as Post-Socialist Property: Rethinking Property Transformation through the Racist Logic of Eviction and Expropriation in Budapest, Hungary

Authors: Jonathan McCombs*, University of Georgia
Topics: Urban Geography, Ethnicity and Race, East Europe
Keywords: Urban geography, racial capitalism, post-socialism, Roma, Budapest, Hungary
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

In early 1992, Márta Blaha published an article titled “Kilakoltatás,” or Evictions, in the Amaro Drom magazine, a Hungarian language publication of Roma politics and culture, speculating on the possibility of housing justice under the auspices of the new Hungarian neoliberal state. Juxtaposed on a series of pictures of Roma families outside of their houses with their belongings stacked on the street, she wrote about how these families found themselves under scrutiny of public authorities, and subsequently evicted. Despite writing the article nearly thirty years ago, the scene that Blaha details could easily depict evictions in Budapest in the present moment, yet the logics and justifications for these evictions have shifted since the early 1990s. This presentation highlights three forms of dispossession that have coincided temporally with the evolution of the Hungarian state since the collapse of state-socialism: 1) squatting, which became widespread with the advent of shock-therapy neoliberal policy proscriptions in the early 1990s, and the ensuing evictions throughout the 1990s; 2) the increasing control over public spaces, and eviction of Roma from those spaces in the 2000s beginning with the lead-up to and eventual accession into the European Union in 2004; and 3) the implementation of a work-fare regime brought forth by the so-called ‘illiberal’ policies of the Fidesz state beginning in 2010. I argue in this paper that the private property regime implemented after the collapse of state-socialism has depended upon the threat of evictions to justify its expansionary logic over Roma housing, public spaces, and bodies.

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