Béla Tomka is professor at the Department of History, University of Szeged. He is the founder and head of the Department of Contemporary History and founding director of the Doctoral Programme of Contemporary and Comparative History at University of Szeged. His main research area is 20th-century social and economic history with a special emphasis on comparative perspectives.

Studies and Degrees

He earned a master’s degree in History and History of Eastern Europe at the University of Szeged, followed by postgraduate studies in economic and social history at the Corvinus University Budapest, in the United States (Minneapolis), and in Germany (Münster). He gained the dr. univ. degree in History in 1995, while a year later he received his PhD title in Economic and Social History. Tomka defended his habilitation thesis (‘venia legendi’) in 2004. In 2010 the Hungarian Academy of Sciences awarded him the Higher Doctorate (DSc) title.


Within the social and economic history of 20th-century Hungary and Europe, his earlier research centred on changes of population and family patterns and the welfare state. His latest works has focused on the comparative history of economic growth, consumption and the quality of life in East Central Europe. His research interests also include the history of violence, propaganda, European integration and the history of globalization.

Professional Affiliations

Since 1992 he is co-editor of Aetas, a Quarterly Journal of History and Related Disciplines, while being a member of other editorial boards of academic periodicals as well (Esély, a Journal of Social Policy; The Hungarian Historical Review; Demográfia). In 2010 he was elected as board member of the International Social History Association (ISHA, Amsterdam) and since 2011 he has been the editor of the newsletter of this association. Since 2016 he has been acting as the President of the István Hajnal Society of Social History. He is also an external founding member of the Social and Economic History PhD program at Eötvös University (ELTE, Budapest).

Publications and Awards

He has been invited by several research institutes and universities in Europe and North-America as research fellow and visiting professor, including the International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam, Universität Mannheim, Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, University of Oxford, University of Edinburgh, Portland State University (OR), Imre Kertesz Kolleg, Jena, Institut für Ost- und Südosteuropaforschung, Regensburg, and Univerzita Hradec Králové.

He is the author of 15 books and editor of several other volumes, as well as a number of scholarly articles. His major awards include the Bolyai Award for Outstanding Scholarly Contributions (2010) by the Bolyai Foundation Budapest, the Award of the Academy (for Distinguished Scholarly Achievement) endowed by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in 2010, and Outstanding Academic Title 2013 Award by Choice, American Library Association (for A Social History of Twentieth-Century Europe, London and New York: Routledge, 2013).