Documenting the History of Religions in the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (1950‒1970)

Letters, Reports and Requests across the Iron Curtain


The present volume offers a new account of the activities of the International Association for the History of Religions during the Cold War. By focusing on the IAHR membership of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in 1957, the book reconsiders the impact of the Iron Curtain . Valerio Severino examines unpublished international correspondences, bureaucratic requests, confidential reports submitted by the delegates after their participation in congresses in Western Europe and the USA. Facts and insights about leading Hungarian scholars and internal processes of the IAHR are reconstructed in detail. Through doing so, Severino is able to evaluate the permeability of the Iron Curtain, the exchange of knowledge between the opposing blocs, the ideological control exercised through the Academy and the ways in which academics subjected their work to this obligation.

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Valerio Severino, Ph.D. Hab. (1972), Sapienza University of Rome, is a historian of “History of Religions” Studies, author of the monograph La religione di questo mondo in Raffaele Pettazzoni (Bulzoni, 2009). He has conducted research at the Italian Lincean Academy, as well as the Polish and the Hungarian Academies of Sciences .

1 From the First Eastern Policy of the IA(S)HR toward the “Intellectual Emigrants” to the New Policy of USSR toward the UNESCO (1950–1954)
 1 To “Represent the Scholarship behind the Iron Curtain”: András Alföldi (1951)
 2 “Russia Decided to Join the UNESCO!” (Raffaele Pettazzoni, October 1954)
 3 The Failure of the “Dualism of Representation”

2 The First IA(S)HR Congress (Rome 1955) at the Dawn of the Warsaw Pact
 1 The Nature of the People’s Republic Delegations
 2 The Italian Christian Democratic Party and the IA(S)HR: The Conspiracy-Theory
 3 A Comparison with the International Congress of Historical Sciences (September 1955). Balancing Marxism and Christianity in Rome
 4 Invitation of the Hungarian Delegation: A Low Level of Security (November 1954)
 5 Remarks on Giovanni Casadio’s Essay “Companions in Arms”: Irrationalism and Sub-Logical
 6 Károly Marót: “Pártonkívüli”
 7 The “True Reasons of the Exile”: The Lecture of Károly Marót on Ovid at the Accademia d’Ungheria in Rome (1955, April 29)
 8 Interview in Népszava: “Science Needs Peace” (Marót, 25 May 1955)
 9 The “Real Internationalism [Internacionalizmus]”
 10 Negotiating Secularism and Religion

3 The Affiliation of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences to the IAHR in the Context of the October 1956 Uprising
 1 The Departments and Ministries Involved (19 November 1955–10 October 1956): The Overload of the Opening Process
 2 Dissimulating Political Opposition in Religious Studies: The “Polemical Speech” of Károly Czeglédy
 3 The Hungarian Uprising in the Middle of the Process of Affiliation
 4 The Three Versions of the Official Membership Request of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (2nd, 7th and 30th August 1957): The Information Available to the IAHR Presidency
 5 The Purge of the Vallástudományi Group (August 1957) and the Reform Committee of the Faculty of Arts at ELTE
 6 László Vajda: A Political Refugee in West Germany
 7 A Comparison between the Affiliation of the MTA to the IAHR and Its Affiliation to the International Federation of Associations of Classical Studies (December 1957–January 1958): Data and Reflection on the Different Hungarian Membership Processes within the CIPSH

4 Remarks on the UN Blocs at the End of the Fifties
 1 The IAHR Congress of Tokyo 1958: New Documents Concerning the MTA Attempt at Attending
 2 The Afro-Asian Group and the IAHR: A Comparative Approach to the Issue of the Blocs

5 Early Activities of the MVT
 1 The Belated Opening Reunion (1960) and the Slow Extension of the MVT
 2 A Cross-Bloc Editorial Event through the Channels of the Italian Communist Intelligentsia (Ambrogio Donini, 1959–1961)
 3 Hungarian Atheist Framework: The Intertwining of Scholars of MVT and Világosság (1960)
 4 Tracing the Diffusion of Trencsényi-Waldapfel’s Works after the Affiliation to the IAHR

6 The Report of Trencsényi-Waldapfel and Czeglédy on the IAHR Congress at Marburg (September 1960): A Document on the Cold War Escalation
 1 The Hungarian Delegation: Details on Its Reduction in Size
 2 “Could Hardly Be [Considered] Apolitical”: The Deferral of the Polskie Towarzystwo Religioznawcze Membership and the Representatives of the GDR
 3 The Issue of the “Dissidents”
 4 “Not to Abandon the Organization”: Marxist Polarization in the IAHR and Alliance-Program
 5 The Context of the Second Vatican Council: Comparing Ostpastoral and IAHR Diplomacy
 6 Strasbourg, September 1964: The Re-Creation of Contacts after Marburg

7 The Report of Trencsényi-Waldapfel on the IAHR Congress in the USA (September 1965): Reflections on the Détente
 1 The Vacancy of the MVT President Office (27th October 1963–8th June 1965)
 2 The FIEC Congress in Philadelphia and the Polish Delegation (August 1964): A Comparison of the Freedom of Scholars
 3 Invitation and Support by the American Program Committee
 4 The IAHR as a “Shared Platform of Diverse Scientific Tendencies” (Trencsényi-Waldapfel)
 5 “His Specialized Knowledge of Bucolic Poetry Would Hardly Seem Subversive”: An Intertextual Analysis
 6 The Ideological Corrections within the Hungarian Academic System: “On the Level of Terminology”
 7 The Public Report
 8 The MVT Agenda for International Cooperation after the 1965 IAHR Congress: Data and Consideration on Security Measures

8 Openings and Closures in the Second Half of the Sixties
 1 A New Document on the Special IAHR Conference at Messina (1966)
 2 “As Agreed”: The Relationship between U. Bianchi and I. Trencsényi-Waldapfel
 3 The Forced Absence of Delegates from the GDR and the IAHR Telegraph Univocally Voted
 4 The IAHR Conference at Jerusalem in the Context of the Six-Day War (1967): A Participation “Not Advised”
 5 The IAHR Congress at Stockholm and the Membership of the Polish National Group (August 1970)

9 Epilogue
 1 “New Perspective of the Open Intellectual Association” in Poland: 1979–1989
 2 1990–91: The Soviet Experiment in the Last Years of the Perestroika
 3 The Nineties: The Reorganization of Central and Eastern Europe
 4 In the Framework of the European Association for the Study of Religion: 2000–
All interested in the history of the “History of Religions” Studies, the IAHR, the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, the Intellectual history of the Cold War (1950‒1970), and Science diplomacy.