Zsolt Nagy

  • Fellowship year:2011-2012
  • University: University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
  • Dissertation Topic/Category: Modern Europe
  • Dissertation Title: National Identities for Export: Interwar East-Central European Cultural Diplomacy
  • My dissertation offers a new interpretation of interwar diplomatic history by examining how the Hungarian leadership sought to mobilize diverse cultural and intellectual resources to alter the country’s international situation and to amend its post-1920 borders. While my dissertation spotlights the role of culture in interwar Hungarian diplomatic efforts, the practice of cultural diplomacy is definitely not a uniquely Hungarian story. Nations small and large too learned the lesson of World War I and came to appreciate the benefits of positive foreign public opinion. Democratic, totalitarian, and authoritarian governments from London to Tokyo deployed their cultural capital to create a positive image of their country abroad. In East-Central Europe, in the absence of military, political, and economic might, cultural diplomacy took on a particularly urgent significance. Hungarian, Romanian, Czechoslovak, and Yugoslav leaders competed for the West’s acceptance and support in order to secure their countries’ place within the European community and to establish sovereign rights over their real and perceived national territories.