Strictly Confidential Anthropology

Post-Truth, Secrecy and Silence in Society and Academia in Hungary

Keywords: secrecy, silence, surveillance, personal anthropology, academic hierarchy, Hungary

Abstract

Anthropological interest in secrecy and silence – and related aspects such as lying, knowledge, memory, and forgetting – has been long and precarious. Through what may be called personal anthropology, in this article, I describe both private and professional anthropological experiences including family memories, fieldwork sites, and academic practices. By recalling state socialist ideology, censorship, and family secrets, I illustrate how citizens have relied on each other in order to counter state hegemony. I highlight how surveillance in Romania expressly encouraged my informants as well as the secret police to engage in mutual intelligence and observation tactics as evasive tactics. Building on these strategies, I argue that academic life is not immune to secrecy, silence and covert action. I introduce an anthropologist who worked for the Hungarian secret police, and consider how academic life continues to rely on covert programs and an institutionalized hierarchy to promote and maintain its structures and interests.

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Published
2021-11-30
How to Cite
Kürti, L. (2021). Strictly Confidential Anthropology: Post-Truth, Secrecy and Silence in Society and Academia in Hungary. Ethnologia Polona, 42. https://doi.org/10.23858/ethp.2021.42.2670