Imre Kertész Kolleg Jena

Dr Ágoston Berecz

Dr Ágoston Berecz © Imre Kertész Kolleg

Leutragraben 1 | 07743 Jena
Phone: + 49 (0) 3641 9 440 70

Ágoston Berecz is a historian whose work focuses on the relationship between language and politics and the social history of nineteenth-century Eastern Europe. His second book, Empty Signs, Historical Imaginaries (Berghahn Books, 2020), tells the history of nationalization processes in Transylvania-at-large from the perspective of proper names. He was acting editor of East Central Europe and research coordinator at Pasts, Inc., Budapest in 2020–21. He received fellowships from the Center for Advanced Studies, Sofia (2020–21) and the New Europe College, Bucharest (2015–16), was a Max Weber Fellow at the European University Institute, Florence (2018–19) and a visiting professor at Central European University and Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest (2017–18). He holds a PhD in Comparative History from Central European University (2017) and a prior degree in Hungarian Philology from Eötvös Loránd University (1999).

Research Project at the Kolleg

Unequal Official Multilingualism in the Eastern Part of Dualist Hungary

My project investigates explicit and implicit state language policies of Dualist Hungary (1867–1918), focusing on its eastern stretches. It relies on the remaining fragments of central government archives and a sampling of extant fonds in eight county branches of the National Archives of Romania, complemented with official publications, countrywide, regional and selected local newspapers in various languages and evidence culled from ego-documents. The result will be a dynamic picture about the patterns of the official use of Hungarian vs. the non-dominant languages, the factors influencing these patterns, the ideas and attitudes informing government designs and implementation, the impact of top-down policies and the popular responses that they elicited. I present my results against the benchmark of the linguistic rights outlined in the 1868 Law of Nationalities and divided according to the domains covered section by section in the law: central government agencies, counties, local governments, the jurisdiction, the civil society and notarial acts. My perspective alternates between the micro and macro levels, and the presentation is grounded in the context of European and global trends.

Main areas of research

  • Eastern, East-Central and Southeastern Europe, 1860s to the First World War
  • The history of nationalism
  • Language and nationalism
  • The history of language policies
  • Historical multilingualism

Positions and memberships

  • Research Fellow, Pasts, Inc. at Central European University, Budapest (since 2019)
  • affiliate member, Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies
  • member, Society for Romanian Studies
  • member, Society of Hungarian Linguistics



Ágoston Berecz, Empty Signs, Historical Imaginaries: The Entangled nationalization of names and naming in a late Habsburg borderland (New York: Berghahn Books, 2020).

Ágoston Berecz, The Politics of Early Language Teaching: Hungarian in the primary schools of the late Dual Monarchy (Budapest: Past, Inc., Central European University, 2014).

Articles (selected)

Ágoston Berecz, ‘Az ‘oláh fiúk”: Román diákok magyar középiskolákban (1867–1914) [The ‘Wallachian Boys’: Romanian students in Hungarian high schools, 1867–1914).’ Aetas 36 (2021), no. 4 (2021) (forthcoming).

Ágoston Berecz, ‘Paraszti nacionalizmus alulnézetből: románok a dualista Magyarországon’ [Peasant nationalism from below: Romanians in Dualist Hungary]. Századok 155, no. 3 (2021): 547–574.

Ágoston Berecz, ‘Top-down and Bottom-up Magyarization in Multiethnic Banat Towns under Dualist Hungary (1867–1914).’ European Review of History 28 (2021), no. 3: 422–440.

Ágoston Berecz, ‘Linguistic Diversity and the Court System in Dualist Hungary.’ Multilingua 40 (2021), vol. 3: 393–419.

Ágoston Berecz, ‘The Languages of Village Governments in the Eastern Stretches of Dualist Hungary: Rights and Practices.’ The Slavonic and East European Review 99 (2021), no. 1: 1–30.

Ágoston Berecz, ‘A Contest for Priority: Nineteenth-Century Place-Name Etymologies of Transylvania at Large.’ Nationalities Papers FirstView 2020.


Review of R. Chris Davis, Hungarian religion, Romanian blood: a minority’s struggle for national belonging, 1920–1945 (Madison, Wis: University of Wisconsin Press, 2019), in Journal of Romanian Studies 3 (2021), no. 2 (forthcoming).

Review of Andreas Wimmer, Nation Building: Why Some Countries Come Together While Others Fall Apart (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2018), in East Central Europe 48 (2021), nos 2–3 (forthcoming).

Review of Andrei Cusco, A Contested Borderland: Competing Russian and Romanian Visions of Bessarabia in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century (Budapest and New York: CEU Press, 2017), in Hungarian Historical Review 8 (2019), no. 4: 867–869.

Review of Maarten Van Ginderachter and Jon Fox, eds, ‘National Indifference and the History of Nationalism in Modern Europe’ (London: Routledge, 2019), in Hungarian Historical Review 8 (2019), no. 3: 636–638.

Review of Bálint Varga, The Monumental Nation: Magyar Nationalism and Symbolic Politics in Fin-de-siècle Hungary (New York: Berghahn Books, 2016), in East Central Europe 45 (2018), nos 2–3: 380–383.