Former IAS/VSP Fellow Laszlo Strausz' new article

March 18, 2020

2018/20 IAS/VSP Fellow Laszlo Strausz published an article titled From affect to instrument: interpellation and governmentality in the BM Filmstúdió collection (Studies in Eastern European Cinema, 2020). The article results from the project Laszlo was working on while being a fellow at IAS in autumn of 2018.

The film studio of the Hungarian Ministry of Interior produced educational and instructional films for more than three decades during the state socialist regime. In this article I present the first findings of my research project that attempts to map the history and the politics of this collection that was discarded by the Ministry and coincidentally found by archivists. Building on the assumption that the actual political-historical shifts taking place in Hungary would be visible on the studio’s output, I identify a trend, the instrumentalization of governmentality, which mirrors some of these changes and shows how motion pictures were used by the state as a tool of persuasion. Instrumentalization, then, refers to the process during which the affective and psychological modes of audience alignment and persuasion used in the discussion of collective, social-political issues shifted towards a technical mode of audiovisual argumentation, where the macropolitical orientation of viewers ceased to be a central goal. The later films focus instead on the stories of individuals and their instrumental-material goals, which both reflects and contributes to the political neutralization of society during the Kádár-years.