In September 2023, the Hungary Foundation together with Mathias Corvinus Collegium (Budapest, Hungary) began another year of the Budapest Fellowship Program, a full-time, fully-funded transatlantic fellowship opportunity in Budapest, Hungary, for young American scholars and professionals. Among the four selected fellows who accepted the commitment of immersing themselves in Hungarian history and culture, we welcome James Carrabino, Junior Fellow. James’s host institution for the duration of his Fellowship is the Committee of National Remembrance, where he will be researching Hungarian and American perceptions of one another since the start of the Cold War. His mentor to guide him on the journey will be Áron Máthé.
Born in London to an American father and an Australian mother, James has a multicultural background that is defined strongly by his mother’s Hungarian roots. James’s maternal grandparents met en route to Australia in a Hungarian refugee camp in 1952/1953. Their story has inspired James’s interest in the strong presence of Hungarian communities in the English-speaking world, including the impressive rate of representation that people of Hungarian origin enjoy at the highest levels of international industry, academia, and the performing arts.
James completed his undergraduate degree at Yale University, where he double-majored in Global Affairs and Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations. He also studied Piano Performance at the Yale School of Music. James has a particular interest in American foreign policy and international law, and while at Yale he spent summers interning at embassies and think tanks in Washington D.C. In his final year at Yale, he completed a project on the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, which ignited his desire to study the politics of Central Europe more closely. It was through his participation in the “War Studies Program,” hosted jointly by the Hertog Foundation and the Institute for the Study of War in Washington D.C., that James was introduced to the Budapest Fellowship Program.
“I immediately welcomed the opportunity to continue my intellectual interests in international security in a country that was close to my heart.” – James Carrabino
James’s interest in Hungary also derives from his passion for classical piano performance. After graduating from Yale, James obtained a Master of Music degree and a professional Artist Diploma degree from the Royal College of Music in London. His musical accomplishments include winning prizes in various international competitions, as well as giving recitals across the United States, United Kingdom, Italy, Romania, Spain, and the Netherlands. From a young age he regularly played music by Hungarian composers such as Franz Liszt and Ernő Dohnányi, and he has received particular recognition for his interpretation of the music of Béla Bartók.
“Music is such a large part of Hungarian culture and I am thrilled to be spending my fellowship in Budapest at the source of this great artistic tradition.” – James Carrabino
James had planned to study at Budapest’s renowned Franz Liszt Academy of Music before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. He has interacted with numerous musical colleagues at the Liszt Academy and he looks forward to collaborating with them further during his fellowship. James has used classical music to pursue cultural outreach in the past through his involvement with a branch of Venezuela’s El Sistema initiative, and he believes that music can play a very important role in cultural diplomacy between the United States and Hungary.
“Soft power and artistic exchange will be integral to helping the U.S. and Hungary understand each other going forward.” – James Carrabino
In July 2023, James completed the legal examinations required to qualify as a solicitor in England and Wales, and he hopes to pursue a career at the intersection of international law and cultural diplomacy. James plans to explore these disciplines in relation to Hungary during his time in Budapest. Overall, he is very excited to combine his musical, legal, and foreign policy interests while connecting with his heritage, developing a closer relationship with his extended family in Hungary, and learning the country’s unique language.