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Photo: EPP Summit, Brussels, October 2018,” by European People’s Party licensed under CC BY 2.0. Hue is modified from the original.

Adriaans, Rik, and Annastiina Kallius. “THE MEME RADAR: Locating Liberalism in Illiberal Hungary.” Cultural Anthropology 37, no. 4 (2022): 679-706.


This article examines the social media practices through which young Hungarians deliberate the workings of truth and the meanings of liberalism under Viktor Orbán’s authoritarian regime. Noting similarities between ubiquitous government propaganda billboards and the aesthetics of parodic social media content, these youth increasingly perceive everyday situations as internet memes. Navigating generational differences, class antagonisms, and rural-urban divisions, for them, seeing the world as a meme anchors the youth’s sense of truth and untruth and liberal identity in a polarized political field. We trace the everyday practices of montage through which conspiratorial billboard campaigns and the parodic forms of internet memes become linked, and observe how the visual, visceral, and networked sensibilities of meme culture help neutralize illiberal propaganda by turning it into a source of the self.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.