The rise of Xenophobia, globally, has unfortunately become increasingly virulent. The latest issue of Social Research, through a set of case studies, draws connections between the personal and the political with contributions from Marci Shore, Erika Lee, Bálint Madlovics, Irena Grudzińska Gross, Sina Arnold, Jocelyne Cesari, Mehmet Kurt, Munawwar Abdulla and, Amit Chaudhuri.


Social Research: An International Quarterly

Volume 88, No. 4 (Winter 2021)

Arien Mack, Editor

Table of Contents

Marci Shore, Yale University
“This Is What Evil Looks Like: Toward a Phenomenology of Evil in Postmodern Form”
This essay draws on phenomenological and psychoanalytic insights to explore, comparatively, manifestations of evil during the twentieth-century totalitarianism and the post-truth present. The regimes of Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump, and Alexander Lukashenko provide contemporary examples. Special attention is paid to the genre of performative confession in Stalinist times and in the present. Authors mentioned include: Anne Applebaum, Hannah Arendt, Anton Chekhov, Nathan Englander, Sigmund Freud, René Girard, Jan Tomasz Gross, Irena Grudzińska Gross, Robert Hamerton-Kelly, Edmund Husserl, Leszek Kołakowski, Ivan Krastev, Marcin Król, Stanisław Jerzy Lec, Claude Levi-Strauss, Czesław Miłosz, Jan Patočka, Tadeusz Słobodzianek, and Tomas Venclova.

Erika Lee, University of Minnesota
“Americans Must Rule America: Xenophobia in the United States”
An entrenched fear of immigrants has shaped America from the colonial era to the present. This essay examines American xenophobia to identify some of its defining features. Xenophobia has been built upon the nation’s history of white settler colonialism and slavery. It has become part of the systemic racism and other forms of bigotry and discrimination that have defined American society. It has adapted to and shaped successive migrations and settlement of peoples from around the world. It has endured because it helps the country’s most important institutions function and thrive: American capitalism, American democracy, and American global leadership.

Bálint Madlovics, CEU Democracy Institute, and Bálint Magyar, CEU Democracy Institute
“Populism as a Challenge to Legal-Rational Legitimacy: The Cases of Orbán and Trump”
The global rise of xenophobia can hardly be detached from the global rise of populism. We define populism as the ideological instrument for the political program of morally unconstrained collective egoism. We show how this challenges liberal democracy, attempting to replace its legal-rational legitimacy basis with substantive-rational legitimacy. Collective egoism is explained in the context of the social psychology of populism. Then, we use the examples of two populist leaders—Viktor Orbán and Donald Trump—to illustrate the elements of populism. We conclude with a few thoughts about the inefficiency of fighting populism from a dogmatic liberal point of view.

Irena Grudzińska Gross, Polish Academy of Science
“The Return of the Repressed”
The article discusses the resurgence of nationalism in Polish political life today.

Sina Arnold, Technische Universität Berlin
“Anti-Muslim Racism, Post-Migration, and Holocaust Memory: Contours of Antisemitism in Germany Today”
Antisemitism is a continuous and present problem in Germany, as opinion polls, crime statistics, and the experience of Jews show. While the violent attack on a Halle synagogue in 2019 illustrates how anti-Muslim racism and antisemitism are intertwined, in contemporary discourse the two phenomena are often pitted against each other. This is also because current German debates about antisemitism are inevitably linked to migration, and the Israel-Palestinian conflict, as well as struggles over the role of Holocaust remembrance. Attempts at joint campaigning are often overshadowed by competition for victimhood and debates around an “imported antisemitism.”

Jocelyne Cesari, University of Birmingham
“The Muslim Stranger: The Combined Effect of Xenophobia and Islamophobia”
This paper builds on Georg Simmel’s definition of the stranger to examine Muslims’ twofold position as outsiders and insiders within European societies. This specific status has triggered two distinct fears: xenophobia and Islamophobia. Both are at work in the current political treatment of Islam and Muslims and reinforce each other, independently of the legal, national, and social status of the concerned persons. Additionally Muslims are not only strangers but also enemies within the Western European societies. This perception of the enemy has expanded to Muslims in the United States since 9/11.

Mehmet Kurt, London School of Economics and Political Science
“No Justice for Kurds: Turkish Supremacy and Kurdophobia”
The Kurds, as the world’s largest stateless nation, are subjected to extreme violence, discrimination, hostility, and racism in contemporary Turkey. I formulate this around the concept of Turkish supremacy and explain how this supremacy is historically rooted, institutionally reinforced, and socially reproduced in the racist habitus of Turkey. Kurdophobia is integral to Turkish supremacy, which needs to invoke racism against Kurds to sustain its position.

Munawwar Abdulla, Evolutionary Neuroscience Laboratory at Harvard University, and Zubayra Shamseden, Uyghur Human Rights Project
“The Rise of Xenophobia and the Uyghur-China Situation”
The global rise in xenophobia has emboldened China to enact genocidal policies against Uyghurs to secure the Uyghur region for economic goals. While the ways racism and xenophobia transpire in China differ from those in the West, they are effective in maintaining a status quo where minorities are oppressed. Some issues that provide insight into xenophobia and structural racism in Uyghur and Chinese society are education policies, economic disparities, and incarceration rates. China’s legalization and promotion of racism, encouragement of Han dominance, and implementation of xenophobic policies in the Uyghur region are a trigger point of the current Uyghur genocide.

Amit Chaudhuri, Ashoka University & Royal Society of Literature
“The Organic Intellectual, Mystical Poetry, and the Rationalist Tradition in India Today”
This essay looks at India after the National Democratic Alliance returned to power in 2019. It focuses on the NDA’s second term, when vast changes to the country’s democratic framework were initiated and the Citizenship Amendment Act was passed, making xenophobia official. The dissenting role of what Gramsci termed the “organic intellectual”—a figure not of the intelligentsia, but in blue- or white-collar employment—is of special interest; so are the anti-CAA mass protests. The essay explores the cultural resources that allowed such expressions of resistance, going back to poetry, the Bhakti movement, and the importance given to rationality in protest by Indian religious and philosophical thinking.

Click here to access the full issue of Social Research: The Global Rise of Xenophobia (Winter, 2021)