Human Rights Careers

5 Essays About Xenophobia

The word “xenophobia” has ties to the Greek words “xenos,” which means “stranger or “guest,” and “phobos,” which means “fear” or “flight.” It makes sense that today we define “xenophobia” as a fear or hatred of strangers or foreigners. Xenophobia has always existed, but the world has experienced a surge in recent years. The essays described in this article provide examples of xenophobia, its ties to anti-immigration and nationalism, and how diseases like COVID-19 trigger prejudice.

“These charts show migrants aren’t South Africa’s biggest problem”

Abdi Latif Dahir  | Quartz Africa

Between March 29-April 2 in 2019, violence broke out in a South African municipality. Foreign nationals were targeted. Even though people were killed and businesses looted and destroyed, the police didn’t make any arrests. This represents a pattern of violence against foreigners who are mostly migrants from other places in Africa. Reporter Abdi Latif Dahir explains that these recent attacks are based on a belief that migrants cause South Africa’s economic and social problems. In this article from Quartz Africa, he outlines what people are blaming migrants for. As an example, while politicians claim that migrants are burdening the country, the data shows that migrants make up a very small percentage of the country.

Abdi Latif Dahir reports for Quartz Africa and speaks multiple languages. He also holds a master’s of arts degree in political journalism from Columbia University.

“Opinion: A rise in nationalism could hurt minorities”

Raveena Chaudhari | The Red and Black

Nationalism is on the rise in many countries around the world, including the US. The election of Donald Trump signaled a resurgence in nationalism, including white nationalism. In her essay, Raveena Chaudhari explains that far-right politics have been gaining steam in Western Europe since the 1980s. The US is just following the trend. She also uses the terms “patriotism,” which is an important part of the American identity, and “nativism,” which is closely linked to a fear of immigrants and diversity. Xenophobia easily emerges from these ideas. Minorities feel the consequences of a rise in nationalism most keenly. Raveena Chaudhari is a junior accounting major and staff writer for The Red and Black, a nonprofit corporation that circulates the largest college newspaper in Georgia. For 87 years, it operated under the University of Georgia but is now independent of the college.

“The Deep Roots of Trump’s Anti-Immigrant Policies”

Daniel Denvir | Jacobin

In this essay, author Daniel Denvir digs into the background of President Trump’s anti-immigration policies. At the time of this piece’s writing, the Supreme Court had allowed the administration to exclude certain groups from entering the United States. The travel ban has been labeled the “Muslim ban.” Where did these anti-immigrant views come from? They aren’t original to Donald Trump. Denvir outlines the history of racist and xenophobic policies that paint immigrants as a threat to America. Knowing that these views are ingrained in American society is important if we want change.

Daniel Denvir is the host of “The Dig” on Jacobin Radio and the author of All-American Nativism, a critique of nativists and moderate Democrats.

“Nationalism isn’t xenophobia, but it’s just as bad” 

Jeffrey Friedman | Niskanen Center

If you’re unsure what the difference is between nationalism and xenophobia, this essay can help clarify things. Written in 2017, this piece starts by examining surveys and studies measuring how xenophobic Trump supporters are. They also explore the reasons why people oppose illegal/legal immigration. The core of the essay, though, takes a look at nationalism vs. xenophobia. While different, Friedman argues that they are both irrational. The distinction is important as it reveals common ground between Trump supporters and Trump opponents. What does this mean?

Jeffrey Friedman is a visiting scholar in the Charles and Louise Tarver Department of Political Science at the University of California. He’s also an editor and author.

Xenophobia ‘Is A Pre-Existing Condition.’ How Harmful Stereotypes and Racism are Spreading Around the Coronavirus 

Jasmine Aguilera | Time

As COVID-19 spreads throughout the world, there’s been a surge in racism against people of Asian descent. In her essay, Jasmine Aguilera relates examples of this discrimination, as well as responses as people take to social media to combat xenophobia. Reacting with racism to a disease is not a new phenomenon. It’s happened in the past with SARS, Ebola, and H1N1. Society always looks for a scapegoat and minorities usually suffer. This has an impact on a population’s health, livelihood, and safety.

Jasmine Aguilera is a contributor to Time Magazine. She has written several articles about COVID-19 for the publication.

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The Association for Psychoanalytic Medicine

Of Fear and Strangers: A History of Xenophobia

Tuesday, February 1, 2022 at 8 PM

Presenter: George Makari, M.D.

Discussant: Kwame Anthony Appiah

By 2016, it was impossible to ignore an international resurgence of xenophobia. What had happened? Looking for clues, psychiatrist and historian George Makari started out in search of the idea’s origins. To his astonishment, he discovered that while a fear and hatred of strangers may be ancient, the notion of a dangerous bias called “xenophobia” arose not so long ago.

Coined by late-nineteenth-century doctors and political commentators and popularized by an eccentric stenographer, xenophobia emerged alongside Western nationalism, colonialism, mass migration, and genocide. Makari chronicles the concept’s rise, from its popularization and perverse misuse to its spread as an ethical principle in the wake of a series of calamities that culminated in the Holocaust and its sudden reappearance in the twenty-first century. He then investigates attempts to psychologically understand the rise of xenophobia through the writings of innovators like Walter Lippmann, Sigmund Freud, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and Frantz Fanon. Weaving together history, philosophy, and psychology, Makari offers us a unifying paradigm by which we might more clearly comprehend how irrational anxiety and contests over identity sweep up groups and lead to the dark headlines of division so prevalent today.

Historian, psychoanalyst, and psychiatrist  George Makari  is the author of the newly released  Of Fear and Strangers: A History of Xenophobia , a New York Times Editor’s Choice. He is also the author of  Soul Machine: The Invention of the Modern Mind  and the widely acclaimed  Revolution in Mind: The Creation of Psychoanalysis . His essays have won numerous honors, including twice winning the JAPA Essay Prize, and have also appeared in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and other publications. Director of the DeWitt Wallace Institute of Psychiatry: History, Policy, and the Arts, Dr. Makari is Professor of Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College and Adjunct Professor at both Rockefeller University and the Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research. He attended Brown University, Cornell University Medical College, and the Columbia Psychoanalytic Center.

Discussant Kwame Anthony Appiah  is Professor of Philosophy and Law at NYU. He was born in London, but moved as an infant to Kumasi, Ghana, where he grew up. He has BA and PhD degrees in philosophy at Cambridge and has taught philosophy in Ghana, France, Britain, and the United States. He has been President of the PEN American Center and serves on the boards of the York Public Library and the Public Theater and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2012 he received the National Humanities Medal from President Obama. He has written the New York Times column  The Ethicist  since 2015. His most recent book is  The Lies that Bind: Rethinking Identity .

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Xenophobia: The Fear of Strangers

Adah Chung is a fact checker, writer, researcher, and occupational therapist. 

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  • Fighting Xenophobia

What Is the Opposite of Xenophobic?

Xenophobia, or fear of strangers, is a broad term that may be applied to any fear of someone different from an individual. Hostility towards outsiders is often a reaction to fear. It typically involves the belief that there is a conflict between an individual's ingroup and an outgroup.

Xenophobia often overlaps with forms of prejudice , including racism and homophobia , but there are important distinctions. Where racism, homophobia, and other forms of discrimination are based on specific characteristics, xenophobia is usually rooted in the perception that members of the outgroup are foreign to the ingroup community.

Whether xenophobia qualifies as a legitimate mental disorder is a subject of ongoing debate.

Xenophobia is also associated with large-scale acts of destruction and violence against groups of people.

Signs of Xenophobia

How can you tell if someone is xenophobic? While xenophobia can be expressed in different ways, typical signs include:

  • Feeling uncomfortable around people who fall into a different group
  • Going to great lengths to avoid particular areas
  • Refusing to be friends with people solely due to their skin color, mode of dress, or other external factors
  • Difficulty taking a supervisor seriously or connecting with a teammate who does not fall into the same racial, cultural, or religious group

While it may represent a true fear, most xenophobic people do not have a true phobia. Instead, the term is most often used to describe people who discriminate against foreigners and immigrants.

People who express xenophobia typically believe that their culture or nation is superior, want to keep immigrants out of their community, and may even engage in actions that are detrimental to those who are perceived as outsiders.

Is Xenophobia a Mental Disorder?

Xenophobia is not recognized as a mental disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). However, some psychologists and psychiatrists have suggested that extreme racism and prejudice should be recognized as a mental health problem.

Some have argued, for example, that extreme forms of prejudice should be considered a subtype of delusional disorder .   It is important to note that those who support this viewpoint also argue that prejudice only becomes pathological when it creates a significant disruption in a person's ability to function in daily life.

Other professionals argue that categorizing xenophobia or racism as a mental illness would be medicalizing a social problem.  

Types of Xenophobia

There are two primary types of xenophobia:

  • Cultural xenophobia : This type involves rejecting objects, traditions, or symbols that are associated with another group or nationality. This can include language, clothing, music, and other traditions associated with the culture.
  • Immigrant xenophobia : This type involves rejecting people who the xenophobic individual does not believe belongs in the ingroup society. This can involve rejecting people of different religions or nationalities and can lead to persecution, hostility, violence, and even genocide.

The desire to belong to a group is pervasive—and strong identification with a particular group can even be healthy. However, it may also lead to suspicion of those who are perceived to not belong.

It is natural and possibly instinctive to want to protect the interests of the group by eliminating threats to those interests. Unfortunately, this natural protectiveness often causes members of a group to shun or even attack those who are perceived as different, even if they actually pose no legitimate threat at all.

Xenophobia vs. Racism

Xenophobia and racism are similar in that they both involve prejudice and discrimination, but there are important differences to consider. Where xenophobia is the fear of anyone who is considered a foreigner, racism is specifically directed toward people based on their race or ethnicity. People can be both xenophobic and racist.

Examples of Xenophobia

Unfortunately, xenophobia is all too common. It can range from covert acts of discrimination or subtle comments to overt acts of prejudice or even violence . Some examples of xenophobia include:

  • Immigration policies : Xenophobia can influence how nations deal with immigration. This may include hostility and outright discrimination against immigrants. Specific groups of people may be the target of bans designed to keep them from moving to certain locations.
  • Displacement : In the U.S., the forcible removal of Indigenous people from their land is an example of xenophobia. The use of residential schools in the U.S. and Canada was also rooted in xenophobic attitudes and was designed to force the cultural assimilation of Native American people.
  • Violence : For example, attacks on people of Asian descent have increased in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Causes of Xenophobia

There are a number of different factors believed to contribute to xenophobia: 

  • Social and economic insecurity : People often look for someone to blame in times of economic hardship or social upheaval. Immigrants and minorities are often scapegoated as the cause of society's ills.
  • Lack of contact : People with little or no contact with people from other cultures or backgrounds are more likely to be fearful or mistrustful of them.
  • Media portrayals : The way immigrants and minorities are portrayed in the media can also influence people's attitudes towards them. If they are only shown in a negative light, it can reinforce people's prejudices.
  • Fear of strangers : In general, people are more likely to be afraid of unfamiliar things. This can apply to both physical appearance and cultural differences.

Impact of Xenophobia

Xenophobia doesn't just affect people at the individual level. It affects entire societies, including cultural attitudes, economics, politics, and history. Examples of xenophobia in the United States include acts of discrimination and violence against Latinx, Mexican, and Middle Eastern immigrants.

Xenophobia has been linked to:

  • Hostility towards people of different backgrounds
  • Decreased social and economic opportunity for outgroups
  • Implicit bias toward members of outgroups
  • Isolationism
  • Discrimination
  • Hate crimes
  • Political positions
  • War and genocide
  • Controversial domestic and foreign policies

Certainly, not everyone who is xenophobic starts wars or commits hate crimes. But even veiled xenophobia can have insidious effects on both individuals and society. These attitudes can make it more difficult for people in certain groups to live within a society and affect all aspects of life including housing access , employment opportunities, and healthcare access.

The twisting of a positive trait (group harmony and protection from threats) into a negative (imagining threats where none exist) has led to any number of hate crimes, persecutions, wars, and general mistrust.

Xenophobia has a great potential to cause damage to others, rather than affecting only those who hold these attitudes.

How to Combat Xenophobia

If you struggle with feelings of xenophobia, there are things that you can do to overcome these attitudes.

  • Broaden your experience. Many people who display xenophobia have lived relatively sheltered lives with little exposure to those who are different from them. Traveling to different parts of the world, or even spending time in a nearby city, might go a long way toward helping you face your fears.
  • Fight your fear of the unknown. Fear of the unknown is one of the most powerful fears of all. If you have not been exposed to other races, cultures, and religions, gaining more experience may be helpful in conquering your xenophobia.
  • Pay attention. Notice when xenophobic thoughts happen. Make a conscious effort to replace these thoughts with more realistic ones.

If your or a loved one's xenophobia is more pervasive, recurring despite exposure to a wide variety of cultures, then professional treatment might be in order. Choose a therapist who is open-minded and interested in working with you for a long period of time.

Xenophobia is often deeply rooted in a combination of upbringing, religious teachings, and previous experiences. Successfully combating xenophobia generally means confronting numerous aspects of the personality and learning new ways of experiencing the world.

While xenophobia describes a fear of strangers, foreigners, or immigrants, xenophilia, or the act of being xenophilic, describes an appreciation and attraction to foreign people or customs.

History of Xenophobia

Xenophobia has played a role in shaping human history for thousands of years. The ancient Greeks and Romans used their beliefs that their cultures were superior to justify the enslavement of others. Many nations throughout the world have a history of xenophobic attitudes toward foreigners and immigrants. 

The term xenophobia originates from the Greek word xenos meaning "stranger" and phobos meaning "fear.

Xenophobia has also led to acts of discrimination, violence, and genocide throughout the world, including:

  • The World War II Holocaust 
  • The internment of Japanese Americans during World War II
  • The Rwandan genocide
  • The Holodomor genocide in Ukraine
  • The Cambodian genocide

Recent examples in the United States include discrimination toward people of Middle Eastern descent (often referred to as "Islamophobia") and xenophobic attitudes towards Mexican and Latinx immigrants. The COVID-19 pandemic also led to reports of xenophobia directed toward people of East Asian and Southeast Asian descent in countries throughout the world.

Suleman S, Garber K, Rutkow L. Xenophobia as a determinant of health: An integrative review . J Public Health Policy . 2018;39(4):407-423. doi:10.1057/s41271-018-0140-1

Choane M, Shulika LS, Mthombeni M. An analysis of the causes, effects and ramifications of xenophobia in South Africa . Insight Afr . 2011;3(2):12-142.

Poussaint AF. Is extreme racism a mental illness? Yes: It can be a delusional symptom of psychotic disorders .  West J Med . 2002;176(1):4. doi:10.1136/ewjm.176.1.4

Bell C. Racism: A mental illness? . Psychiatr Serv . 2004;55(12):1343. doi:10.1176/appi.ps.55.12.1343

Baumeister RF, Leary MR. The need to belong: Desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation . Psychol Bull . 1995;117(3):497-529.

National Cancer Institute. Let's talk about xenophobia and anti-Asian hate crimes .

Klein JR. Xenophobia and crime . In: Miller JM, ed. The Encyclopedia of Theoretical Criminology . Oxford: Blackwell Publishing; 2014. doi:10.1002/9781118517390.wbetc094

Merriam-Webster. ' Xenophobia' vs. 'racism .'

Romero LA, Zarrugh A. Islamophobia and the making of Latinos/as into terrorist threats . Ethnic Racial Stud . 2018;12:2235-2254. doi:10.1080/01419870.2017.1349919

American Medical Association. AMA warns against racism, xenophobia amid COVID-19 .

By Lisa Fritscher Lisa Fritscher is a freelance writer and editor with a deep interest in phobias and other mental health topics.

Race, Racism and the Law

Why Xenophobia?

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  Abstract

Excerpted From: Natsu Taylor Saito, Why Xenophobia?, 31 Berkeley La Raza Law Journal 1 (2021) (174 Footnotes) ( Full Document )

NatsuTaylorSaito

In 2020, manifestations of xenophobia increased in the United States with the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). For example, in March, not long after the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus to be a pandemic, a teenager stabbed three Asian Americans, including children aged two and six, in a Texas store “because he thought the family was Chinese, and infecting people with the coronavirus.” This did not deter President Donald Trump from continuing to refer to the disease as the “Chinese virus.” Shortly thereafter, one group tracking hate crimes reported 650 instances of anti-Asian discrimination or harassment in just one week. Such attacks are not limited to those presumed to be Chinese or even Asian, as illustrated by a young white man's April 2020 Facebook post calling upon his fellow Arizona residents to “shoot to kill these Navajo [who] are 100% infected with the Coronavirus.”

American Indians have long been depicted in settler discourse as internal enemies and, ironically, the resulting stigma of “foreignness” still follows those Indigenous to this land. Thus, for example, in July 2020, American Indian activists and their allies gathered in the Black Hills (Paha Sapa) of South Dakota to contest the president's visit to Mt. Rushmore were met by Trump supporters vehemently insisting that they “go home.” The monument, which symbolizes genocidal expansionism and defaces lands sacred to the Lakota people, is located on unceded Indian land within the boundaries identified by the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868, but this was, apparently, irrelevant to those confronting the Lakota Treaty defenders.

These are but a few examples of the xenophobia that permeates so much of American culture today. Over the past few years, toddlers have been ripped away from their parents and held in cages, and the government shut down over how much more money should go into a southern border wall. Central Americans fleeing gang-driven violence are described as terrorists and drug lords. Muslims are persistently viewed as terrorists and regularly targeted, sometimes lethally, by vigilantes as well as by law enforcement agencies. And in the meantime, people of color from all backgrounds are routinely told to “go back” to where we came from. Why has xenophobia been so persistent throughout United States history?

This essay uses the experiences of people of color within the United States to begin an analysis of the structural drivers of xenophobia in settler states. Xenophobia has always been deeply entwined with racism, but it has also maintained a life of its own. In the Angloamerican settler colonial project, racism has consistently been invoked to justify the appropriation of Indigenous lands and resources, the enslavement of American Indian and African peoples, the exploitation of other peoples of color, and the restrictions placed on citizenship and immigration. In light of this history, why do we also have xenophobia? What does xenophobia accomplish that racism alone does not?

In this initial exploration, I assume that in the United States, xenophobia, like racism, serves many purposes and that developing effective remedies requires an understanding of these purposes. Xenophobia is a product of empire that serves to legitimize the existence of colonially-derived states, including the United States. It empowers the state by providing external threats to combat when internal divisions threaten social stability, allowing exceptions to constraints on the use of state power, creating justifications for massive “defense” and surveillance expenditures, and diverting attention from the real costs and consequences of empire.

Thinking carefully about the “why” of xenophobia--why it persists and why it takes particular forms--is important because its perceived (or implicit) social utility is the source of its power; its functions, or purposes, give us vital information about how that power can be diminished. In the United States, racism is frequently condemned, in theory, if not in practice. In one form or another, this has been true at least since the Reconstruction era, when the Fourteenth Amendment's promise of equal protection under law was quickly subverted by the Supreme Court's narrow interpretation of the Reconstruction Amendments and its protection of legally mandated apartheid. However, discriminatory measures targeting people on the basis of their “outsider” status rather than their racial identity or ethnicity are met with more ambivalence.

A common presumption is that the damage wrought by xenophobia is best addressed by inclusion and absorption into the dominant society. However, because xenophobia reinforces a “national” identity, it may be that, somewhat counterintuitively, it furthers the interests not only of those who envision the United States as an explicitly racial project but also those who believe themselves committed to an assimilationist, “postracial” future. This essay provides a preliminary exploration of the thesis that if a primary purpose of xenophobia is to consolidate and maintain structures of internal colonial rule, it will be best countered not by the assimilation of those deemed Other, but by the recognition of their right to “freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development”--in other words, by supporting their right to self-determination.

Xenophobia is a phenomenon integrally related to race and empire. It is generated by and, in turn, fuels the dynamic of difference that always undergirds colonial and neocolonial occupation and exploitation. Xenophobia serves to legitimize and empower states rooted in the colonial world order, including the contemporary American settler state. These dynamics are worth exploring because understanding them will allow us to counter the xenophobia that has been so persistent throughout U.S. history.

Thus, for example, some variant of assimilation or “multiculturalism” is usually presumed to be the most effective response to xenophobia. However, to the extent that its contemporary manifestations are rooted in, legitimize, and empower settler colonial relations, proposed solutions that reinforce the settler state will further entrench xenophobia. This means that assimilationism--or approaches that focus on inclusion rather than decolonization--may, in fact, exacerbate the problem. This is because assimilationism reinforces the hegemony of an on-going occupation that relies upon the subjugation and/or disappearance of those deemed Other. There are no quick fixes for, as Achiume notes, “[f]ully confronting” the challenges of xenophobia “requires a radical rethinking of the relationship between territory and political community.”

In the meantime, as we work towards that radical rethinking, there is nothing to be gained by reinforcing that which needs to be dismantled. For example, rather than reinforcing the legitimacy of the state by claiming-- counterfactually--that this has always been a “nation of immigrants,” we can interrogate its claimed prerogative to assert jurisdiction over indigenous lands and peoples. Mobilizing against external enemies can be a tactic for diverting attention and resources from the disparities caused by structural racism. In such cases, we can insist on policies and practices that redress those disparities, rather than believing that, somehow, if we join together in a “national” cause, racial prejudices will dissipate.

We can openly and vigorously defend those--like Kaepernick--who question mandatory displays of allegiance to a state incapable of protecting its residents from its own security forces. We can refuse to accept otherwise unlawful or unconstitutional state action, or the channeling of public funds into massive “defense” projects simply because the government invokes the mantra of national security or domestic terrorism. Finally, rather than waiting for the consequences of American empire to find their way back home, we can insist that state resources be used to protect and defend those who are most vulnerable. We cannot know which options will prove most effective, but an analysis focused on structure and function reveals many ways to deny xenophobia its power. And that, I believe, is a good place to start.

Distinguished University Professor and Professor of Law, Georgia State University College of Law, Atlanta.

Vernellia R. Randall Founder and Editor Professor Emerita of Law The University of Dayton School of Law Email

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  • 14 December 2023

Why hidden xenophobia is surging into the open

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Anti-immigrant sentiment is playing a major part in current events across Europe and North America. Ireland is reeling from destructive far-right riots in Dublin in November. Also last month, the Dutch Party for Freedom, led by Geert Wilders — a staunch and unapologetic opponent of Islam and immigration — won 37 seats in the 150-seat House of Representatives, the nation’s lower house. In the past two years, Sweden, Italy and Finland have elected right-wing governments. And in the United States, a second Donald Trump presidency threatens.

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Xenophobia refers to the fear, hatred, or prejudice against strangers or people perceived as foreign or different from one’s community or culture. It involves hostility and perceived conflict towards those considered an “outgroup.”

Xenophobia originates from the Greek words “xenos” meaning “stranger” and “phobos” meaning “fear.” So, in literal terms, it describes fear of strangers.

However, in common usage, xenophobia also encompasses general discrimination, negative attitudes, and hostile behaviors towards immigrants, foreigners, and cultural outsiders.

a woman looking sad while several hands point towards her

What is Xenophobia?

Xenophobia is the fear or hatred of people perceived as being different from oneself. This can be based on a person’s race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, or other distinguishing characteristics.

Xenophobia can often lead to discriminatory behaviors and attitudes, such as prejudice, racism, and even violence. It is important to recognize and address xenophobia, as it can have harmful effects on individuals and society as a whole.

This can typically stem from the deep-rooted belief that there is a conflict between the individual’s ingroup and the outgroups.

Someone xenophobic may feel uncomfortable being in the presence of people from a different group, refuse to be friends or associate with these individuals, may not take outgroup individuals seriously, or may believe their ingroup is superior to the outgroup.

While racism is the belief that one race is superior to another, xenophobia is the hatred of outsiders based on fear, which could then result in feelings of superiority over those outsiders.

Xenophobia is an issue as this type of thinking separates people into insiders and outsiders, which can ultimately cause attitudes such as fear, hate, and humiliation.

Xenophobia could also result in people feeling excluded from the culture they wish to live in or even violence in the most extreme cases. Xenophobia can, therefore, lead to negative experiences at the individual and the social level.

Is it a Mental Disorder?

Xenophobia is not recognized as a mental health condition since there are no criteria for it in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

Some researchers have debated whether xenophobia should be given its own criteria or made a sub-type of another condition. Poussaint (2002) suggested that extreme xenophobic attitudes should be considered a sub-type of delusional disorder.

The reasoning behind this is that extreme violence because of xenophobia should be indicative of a mental health condition, and not viewing extreme xenophobia as pathological can normalize and legitimize these views.

The researcher, therefore, proposes there be a ‘Prejudice type’ under the criteria of delusional disorder, which can account for extreme xenophobic attitudes and behaviors.

In contrast, others have maintained that extreme xenophobia should not be labeled as a mental health condition, as they argue it is a social problem rather than a health issue (Bell, 2004).

While xenophobia contains the word ‘phobia,’ a diagnosable mental health condition, it is not suggested to be as extreme as other clinical phobias people may experience, such as agoraphobia or claustrophobia.

While it is possible to have a clinical fear of strangers, these individuals would fear all strangers, including those that would be of the same race, ethnicity, and culture as them. People with a fear of all strangers would experience anxious symptoms associated with phobias even while only thinking of strangers.

They would also try to avoid all strangers as much as possible. Therefore, the condition would be significantly detrimental to their lives.

While xenophobia is not a diagnosable mental health condition, it can become a symptom of other mental health conditions. For instance, extreme racist views which stem from xenophobia could be a symptom of psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia.

Likewise, xenophobia could be because of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If someone develops PTSD after experiencing terrorism and violence in another country, they could then develop xenophobia attitudes because of that experience.

Types of Xenophobia

There are two main types of xenophobia:

Cultural Xenophobia

Individuals who have culturally xenophobic views may reject objects, traditions, or symbols which are associated with another group.

For instance, this could be clothing that is traditional of another culture, different languages, or traditional music of another culture.

Culturally xenophobic people may believe their own cultures and traditions are superior to those belonging to other groups.

This type of xenophobia may present as people making negative remarks about culturally traditional clothing or making derogatory comments when people speak another language around them.

Immigrant Xenophobia

Individuals who express immigrant xenophobia may reject people or groups of people who they believe do not fit in with their ingroup society.

This may involve rejecting people who have different religions or nationalities and avoiding people who have different skin colors to them.

Individuals with this type of xenophobia may consider people in their own social or cultural group as being superior to others, avoid places heavily populated by immigrants, or make negative comments about people who belong to other cultures or countries.

The cause of xenophobia can be complicated. Evolutionary psychologists may argue that xenophobia may be a part of the genetic behavioral heritage because fear of outside groups protected ancestral humans from threat.

Due to this, we may still have a predisposition to being wary of outgroups and may feel more inclined to spend our time with those who are like us. This has also been demonstrated in experiments using the ‘Strange Situation.’

In these classic studies, infants were shown to have anxiety (e.g., crying, not wanting to go near the stranger) when left in a room with a stranger compared to someone familiar.

Factors that affect xenophobic attitudes are mainly considered internal and external. Internal factors are genetics and personality traits, while environmental factors are within the range of intergroup relations and education.

A study by Kocaturk and Bozdag (2020) investigated the relationship between personality traits and xenophobic attitudes. They found that those who had high scores of ‘agreeableness,’ which is associated with compassion and kindness, had lower levels of xenophobic attitudes.

In comparison, those who scored highly on narcissism and psychopathy were shown to be linked with higher levels of xenophobic attitudes.

While some people may be more predisposed to be xenophobic, a lot of the attitudes are a learned response. For instance, if people grow up with families who are xenophobic, they will likely pass on these beliefs to their children.

Similarly, if people are brought up in areas with little diversity or went to school with primarily people who were of the same culture and race or spoke the same language as them, they may not be as knowledgeable of people outside of their own culture or nationality.

This lack of knowledge may also affect the tolerance someone may have of other people, and there may be a stronger sense of ingroup and outgroup.

Social media and news outlets could also fuel xenophobic attitudes, such as politicians using political propaganda to weaponize xenophobia to manipulate emotional tensions within a community to further their agenda. Social media can make it easier than ever to find like-minded individuals and communities who have the same xenophobic attitudes.

Also, social media could influence individuals’ opinions if something is presented to them in a way that can sway views.

Previously tolerant individuals might become exposed to intolerant views, which can shift their opinions in the same way that those with intolerant views may find information that makes their views more extreme (Bursztyn et al., 2019).

Xenophobic attitudes can have a wider impact on societies, including cultural attitudes, economics, politics, and history.

Xenophobia has been linked to the following:

War and genocide

Hostility towards ‘others.’

Decreased social and economic growth for outgroups

Discrimination

Hate crimes

The spread of false information about certain cultures

Controversial policies

Those experiencing xenophobic attitudes towards them may find it difficult to live in their society. They may have fewer job opportunities, housing access, and rights than others.

This could negatively affect their mental health, making them feel socially isolated or depressed.

They may also feel unsafe, dismissed, disconnected, and constantly feel like they are being threatened.

A study on experiences of xenophobia among U.S. Chinese older adults found that they had increased levels of depression, poorer health, an increased risk of isolation, and was more likely to have suicidal ideation (Dong, Chen, & Simon, 2014).

On the other hand, those who express xenophobic views may also face negative impacts. They could lose friends with people who do not share their views or even lose their job, in extreme cases, if their xenophobic actions are reported. This may also result in these individuals feeling socially isolated or depressed.

Current issues could also strengthen xenophobic attitudes and cause negative impacts. For instance, the increase in immigration over the years on a global scale may have strengthened xenophobic attitudes (Yakushko, 2009).

The terrorist attack of 9/11 in New York was followed by anti-Muslim xenophobia. Likewise, the European Union referendum in Britain in 2016 also saw a significant increase in xenophobic attitudes towards immigrants, with a 41% reported increase in racially aggravated offenses in June 2016 compared to June 2015 (Home Office, 2016).

More recently, the outbreak of COVID-19 sparked an increase in xenophobic attitudes towards Asian communities, with more than 1700 anti-Asian hate incidents documented across the United States between March and May 2020 (Le, Cha, Han, & Tseng, 2020).

Combating Xenophobia

For those who have xenophobic attitudes, it may be beneficial to undergo a type of therapy that would alter the incorrect and harmful perceptions they have of others.

A lot of xenophobia could have stemmed from deep-rooted core beliefs that may be difficult to change. If someone with these beliefs wants therapy, the therapists should provide a non-judgemental approach to help the individual.

Cognitive behavioral therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) utilizes methods to challenge unhelpful thoughts and beliefs and aims to adjust these to more realistic or helpful ones.

This could also work if the person with xenophobia experiences anxiety or irrational fears of other people.

Anger management

Also, anger management could be an option for those who are more prone to violent or threatening outbursts towards those who are not a part of their ingroup.

Through anger management, individuals can learn skills to manage their negative emotions like fear and anxiety to overcome this.

Broaden experiences

Otherwise, those who recognize and want to change their xenophobic attitudes may benefit from broadening their experiences. They could travel to other parts of their country or another country where the culture and language are different to help them with their tolerance of people who they consider different from them.

This could relate to exposure therapy, a common practice used with people who have phobias, with the idea that the more exposure one has to something fearful, the less fearful one will be over time.

Individuals could also educate themselves in other ways, such as watching documentaries that discuss other cultures, reading informative books, attending talks, or joining social groups for those wanting to learn more about different cultures, ethnicities, languages, etc.

Consider similarities with the ‘outgroup’

Additionally, when talking to individuals that would have been considered part of the ‘outgroup,’ it may be useful to search for similarities with that person, such as shared interests.

This could increase how much they relate to others as they may notice that there are a lot more similarities between people than they originally thought.

They could also try to learn something from people they encounter, such as understanding situations from another’s perspective.

The less unknown people become, the less likely the individual will feel uncomfortable around them.

Coping With Xenophobia

If someone has experienced xenophobic comments directed towards them and this is affecting their mental health, they may also consider therapy depending on how severely affected they feel.

If individuals are experiencing depression or anxiety because of xenophobia, they could be prescribed anti-depressants to help combat some of the symptoms. However, this may not always be recommended as the first response to mental health issues.

They may also consider counseling or group therapy to discuss how they are feeling and to find ways to manage their negative feelings.

Online communities and support groups are another way to find like-minded individuals who may have had similar experiences. These groups can provide a safe space to be heard and reminded that they are not alone.

For anyone who is noticing xenophobia in society, it may be useful to call out xenophobic comments or intervene if safe to do so. This can inform the person who is being xenophobic that their behavior is problematic, and they may be less likely to repeat their behavior.

Since xenophobic attitudes can begin in childhood, it may be beneficial to educate children at a young age to help prevent deep-rooted xenophobia from taking form.

Speaking honestly with children about xenophobia could help them learn to challenge this behavior if they notice it, such as speaking up for a child in their class who may become a target.

Finally, other ways to tackle xenophobia are to report incidents if safe to do so, both in public and online, share stories about xenophobic experiences to increase awareness, call out news outlets if they are using xenophobic language, and support human rights organizations.

Further Information

Choane, M., Shulika, L. S., & Mthombeni, M. (2011). An analysis of the causes, effects and ramifications of xenophobia in South Africa. Insight on Africa, 3(2), 129-142.

Baumeister, R. F., & Leary, M. R. (1995). The need to belong: desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation. Psychological bulletin, 117(3), 497.

Bell, C. (2004). Racism: A mental illness?. Psychiatric Services, 55(12), 1343-1343.

Bursztyn, L., Egorov, G., Enikolopov, R., & Petrova, M. (2019). Social media and xenophobia: evidence from Russia (No. w26567). National Bureau of Economic Research.

Corcoran, H., Lader, D., & Smith, K. (2016). Hate Crime, England and Wales . Statistical bulletin, 5, 15.

Dong, X., Chen, R., & Simon, M. A. (2014). Experience of discrimination among US Chinese older adults. Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biomedical Sciences and Medical Sciences, 69 (Suppl_2), S76-S81.

Kocaturk, M., & Bozdag, F. (2020). Xenophobia among University Students: Its Relationship with Five Factor Model and Dark Triad Personality Traits. International Journal of Educational Methodology, 6 (3), 545-554.

Le, T. K., Cha, L., Han, H. R., & Tseng, W. (2020). Anti-Asian xenophobia and Asian American COVID-19 disparities .

Poussaint, A. F. (2002). Yes: it can be a delusional symptom of psychotic disorders. The Western journal of medicine, 176 (1), 4-4.

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Introduction: Understanding Xenophobia in Africa

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Part of the book series: Advances in African Economic, Social and Political Development ((AAESPD))

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Colonialism militarised African societies and imposed a violent character upon the state and societies, which explains the spate of political instability, insurgency, terrorism and civil war experienced in many African countries. This chapter provides an understanding of xenophobia and presents xenophobia as all forms of discrimination against those considered to be ‘different’, ‘the other’, and non-national. It engages the politicization of xenophobia, explores its motivations and traces its roots to Africa’s colonial heritage. Although, xenophobic violence which has become part of the African story, is not a new phenomenon, but its destructive nature has become a cause for concern among stakeholders in African peace, security and development projects. From Ghana to Nigeria and Zambia to South Africa, hostility has been directed against ‘the others’ and non-nationals of African descent. While there is a rich literature on the violent manifestation of xenophobia in Africa, few studies have explored the non-violent expression of xenophobia. Thus, this section conceptualizes the diverse manifestations of xenophobia and its effects on the state, economy and society.

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Akinola, A.O. (2018). Introduction: Understanding Xenophobia in Africa. In: Akinola, A. (eds) The Political Economy of Xenophobia in Africa. Advances in African Economic, Social and Political Development. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-64897-2_1

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South Africa on the precipice of explosive xenophobic violence: UN experts

15 July 2022

The experts noted that xenophobia, especially against low-income, African and South East Asian migrants and refugees, had been a feature of South African politics for many years.

GENEVA (15 July 2022) – UN experts* today condemned reports of escalating violence against foreign nationals in South Africa and called for accountability against xenophobia, racism and hate speech that were harming migrants, refugees, asylum seekers and even citizens perceived as foreign throughout the country.

Recent reports indicate that xenophobic violence and discrimination have increased, including under the banner of “Operation Dudula”, originally a social media campaign that has become an umbrella for mobilisation of violent protests, vigilante violence, arson targeting migrant-owned homes and businesses, and even the murder of foreign nationals.

The experts warned that the ongoing xenophobic mobilization was broader and deeper, and has become the central campaign strategy for some political parties in the country. “Anti-migrant discourse from senior government officials has fanned the flames of violence, and government actors have failed to prevent further violence or hold perpetrators accountable,” they said.

“Without urgent action from the government of South Africa to curb the scapegoating of migrants and refugees, and the widespread violence and intimidation against these groups, we are deeply concerned that the country is on the precipice of explosive violence,” the experts said.  

The experts noted that xenophobia, especially against low-income, African and South East Asian migrants and refugees, had been a feature of South African politics for many years. In 2008, for example, xenophobic violence resulted in the death of over 60 people and contributed to the displacement of at least 100,000. Xenophobia is often explicitly racialised, targeting low-income Black migrants and refugees and, in some cases, South African citizens accused of being “too Black to be South African.”

In one highly publicised incident in April 2022, a 43-year-old Zimbabwean national and father of four was killed in Diepsloot by a group going door-to-door demanding to see visas. The attackers drove the victim out of a place where he was seeking refuge, beat him and set him on fire. The violence has continued unabated—it is alleged that the burning of the Yeoville Market in Johannesburg on 20 June 2022 was carried out by persons targeting migrant shopkeepers.

The UN experts observed that discrimination against foreign nationals in South Africa has been institutionalised both in government policy and broader South African society. This had led to violations of the right to life and physical integrity and rights to an adequate standard of living and to the highest attainable standard of health, as well as elevated risks of arbitrary detention, torture and  refoulement , they said.

The experts also expressed concern over reports that widespread corruption in the South African asylum and migration systems compound these dangerous problems.

“The cost in human dignity and lives, particularly in light of the past 30 years of xenophobic violence, remains widespread and deeply troubling,” the experts said.

“We are gravely concerned that South Africa is not meeting its positive obligations to protect and promote human rights while preventing racial and xenophobic discrimination,” they said.

“At the same time, perpetrators enjoy widespread impunity for xenophobic rhetoric and violence, leading to a lack of accountability for serious human rights violations and the flourishing of racist and xenophobic political platforms.”

The experts urged private and public actors to honour their commitments to human rights and racial justice, and take a firm stand against the racist and xenophobic violence which continues in South Africa.

The UN experts have been in official communication with the South African Government to address these allegations and clarify its obligations under international law.

*The experts:  Ms E. Tendayi Achiume ,  Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance ;  Mr .  Morris Tidball-Binz ,  Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions ;  Mr .  Felipe González Morales ,  Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants .

Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the  Special Procedures  of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

For more information and media requests please contact: Eleanor Robb +41 22 917 9800/  [email protected] )

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact Renato de Souza (+41 22 928 9855 / ( [email protected] ) or Dharisha Indraguptha (+41 79 506 1088 /  [email protected] )

Follow news related to the UN’s independent human rights experts on Twitter @UN_SPExperts.

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What Is Xenophobia?

xenophobia essay body

Xenophobia is the fear of strangers. The word is also used to describe an attitude of prejudice and an outlook that is exclusionary of foreigners and certain people based on their background and identity. It may also manifest as a display of hostility towards specific ethnic groups.

Xenophobia Versus Racism

There’s a fine line between xenophobia and racism but the two words are mutually exclusive. As the term suggests, xenophobia (phobia meaning fear) is a fear of foreigners and their customs that often transforms into intense dislike. On the other hand, racism is a firm belief in the misplaced idea that gauges an individual’s worth and capabilities based on their physical attributes like the color of their skin and hair.

This belief typically leads to the methodical oppression of the individuals and groups of people who are considered inferior. Racist behavior can also lead to a systematic denial of human rights to entire groups of people, rights that other groups in the same region or country enjoy. Racism also limits opportunities in economic, social, and other areas of public life to oppressed groups based on their race.

There have been many studies in the U.S. about white supremacist ideologies that perceive white people as being superior to other races, including African-American, Asian-American, Latin, and Native American populations.

While xenophobia and racism do converge in some aspects, xenophobia does not lead to discrimination based on someone’s physical features or membership in a specific group of people. Xenophobia tends to divide people into two groups — insiders and outsiders. This in turn leads to fear and insecurity about outsiders who are presumed to pose a threat to the existing inhabitants.

A recent example of xenophobia is the increased number of incidences of violence in the U.S. against Asian-Americans since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. Several cities across the U.S. have reported unprovoked instances of violence and theft, some of which have also led to fatalities.

Causes of Xenophobia

Rapid globalization has led to national boundaries becoming transparent. This, in turn, has led to increased migration to certain countries, especially those that are developed, by people in search of a better life. Mass migration has triggered a sense of identity among both the immigrants to and the existing residents of those countries.

The existing population that has witnessed this massive inflow of immigrants is fearful of losing their social status and identity to the newcomers. There is also the perceived threat of losing their way of life along with the jobs that help sustain their lives. Although the acceptance of free-market economies has spurred development in several countries, it has also led to several confrontations between existing residents of a country and new immigrants.

To cite an example, there were several reports of violence in South Africa in 1994, where many locals who belonged to the Xhosa community (a local tribe based in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa) clashed with Namibian immigrants who had settled in the province. Their point of contention was that the members of the migrant Namibian population that had settled in the province were stealing jobs that were the lifeline for the Xhosa people.

Members of the Xhosa community expressed further anguish about the fact that the Namibian immigrants were undercutting their jobs by agreeing to work for lower wages and not being willing to participate in efforts to bargain with the employers for better wages and working conditions. All of this caused a general distrust of immigrants that eventually led to the launch of a collective campaign against them called “Operation Buyelekhaya” (go back home).

How To Fight Racism

Racism has been described as an invisible evil. This is because although racism itself may be explicit, its expression is most often so subtle and deceptive that it can be hard to place.

Children face discrimination based on the color of their skin at an age where they are unable to comprehend such differences. Research has shown that disciplinary policies in preschools target black students by as much as 3.6 times when compared to white students.

A Canadian study found that children from the Caribbean are three times more likely to be identified as “at-risk” students, and, as a result, placed in separate classes. The deep-rooted bias that so discriminates against individuals may also adversely affect their health , which is one reason why it is important to call out such tendencies and to devise other methods to combat racism, We must:

  • Celebrate diversity . It is important to have a constant reminder that all the inhabitants in this world are equal and every culture has something unique to offer to this world. Children must be taught to acknowledge and enjoy cultural diversity. This can begin with simple measures such as reading about different cultures from around the world, exploring various cuisines, and watching movies from other countries.
  • Educate . There should be a concerted effort to educate adults and children alike about unity in diversity and to reinforce the benefits of science-based education. This includes doing away with the idea that racially different groups are inherently distinct and fostering a sense of human oneness in its place.
  • Inculcate kindness . Feelings such as prejudice and dislike are not natural. They are learned behaviors that many people pick up by watching adults around them. That’s why it’s essential to start early and make children understand that differences are to be celebrated. the innate humanness in everyone recognized, and judgements based on external appearances shunned. It is also important to teach children the importance of choosing kindness at all times as an alternative to hostility.
  • Create concrete action plans . It’s important to build and promote platforms to monitor acts of discrimination in everyday life and take the necessary measures to call out racism in all its forms. This should be coupled with strengthening civil rights for people from all backgrounds.
  • Track social media . Social media has long been thought of as one of the platforms where racist views get a lot of traction. There is an acute need to monitor the role of the social media platforms that don’t keep a check on the spread of biased views and permit the propagation of online hate speech directed towards specific groups.

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Acta Academica

On-line version  issn 2415-0479 print version  issn 0587-2405, acta acad. (bloemfontein, online) vol.54 n.2 bloemfontein  2022, http://dx.doi.org/10.18820/24150479/aa54i2/1 .

INTRODUCTION

Introduction to the special issue: xenophobia in Africa

Stephanie Cawood I ; Peter Olapegba II

I Centre for Gender and Africa Studies, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein. E-mail: [email protected] II Department of Psychology, University of Ibadan, Nigeria. E-mail: [email protected]

This Acta Academica special issue on xenophobia in Africa has followed a complex trajectory to reach publication. A delegation from the University of the Free State (South Africa) visited the University of Ibadan (Nigeria) from 9-14 September 2019 to expand collaboration and develop strategic partnerships between the two institutions. One of the strategic outcomes was a proposed colloquium on the topic of xenophobia in Africa planned for 2627 May 2020 to coincide with the 2020 Africa Day Memorial Lecture hosted annually by the Centre for Gender and Africa Studies at the University of the Free State (UFS). The colloquium was to be held in Bloemfontein and hosted by the Centre for Gender and Africa Studies, the Faculty of the Humanities, and the Office for International Affairs at the UFS in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Ibadan (Nigeria). Colleagues from the University of Ibadan, notably Prof. Peter O. Olapegba, and from the UFS (Dr Stephanie Cawood, Prof. Heidi Hudson, Dr Cornelius Hagenmeier) were in the process of developing the call for papers when in March 2020, COVID-19 was officially declared a global pandemic and countries, including South Africa, instituted a series of 'hard lockdowns' leading to the mass curtailment of international and local travel, as well as the cancellation of face-to-face events such as the planned colloquium. The constraints of the pandemic and successive 'hard lockdowns' created great uncertainty at the time for universities in terms of their operations, but especially in terms of how to proceed with international collaborations when countries and institutions by necessity were becoming increasingly insular to find ways to overcome the challenges of the time. By the end of 2020, it became apparent that international travel and a possible colloquium would not be feasible anytime soon, and the decision was taken to convert the colloquium into a special issue in Acta Academica with Dr Stephanie Cawood from the UFS and Prof. Peter O. Olapegba from the University of Ibadan as guest editors.

The pandemic and stringent measures imposed to contain the spread of the virus exacerbated existing socio-political and economic problems in Africa (and elsewhere) including gender-based violence, xenophobia, extremism, state corruption, repression of press freedom, increased authoritarianism, and threats to free and fair elections. Pandemics represent periods of extraordinary pressures that Zhou Xun and Sander Gilman in their book I know who caused COVID-19: Pandemics and Xenophobia (2021) attribute to a 'primal fear' that amplify existing prejudices, often scapegoating the already marginalised in society (White 2022: 512). The proposed special edition on xenophobia in Africa thus became even more relevant during the course of the pandemic.

Some of the most violent manifestations of xenophobia in the past two decades in Africa are associated with South Africa. Between 2008 and 2019, numerous violent attacks on foreigners in South Africa made news headlines around the world. The African Centre for Migration and Society (ACMS) reports that the xenophobic attacks in South Africa, which peaked in 2008 and 2015, led to the destruction of property and caused displacements, injuries, and deaths. Beyond the South African context, xenophobia has a long history in Africa. Indeed, xenophobia may even manifest as Afrophobia, or the hate or fear of peoples and cultures of Africa (including the African diaspora). However, the phenomenon has become more violent and destructive, with severe implications for the achievement of peace, security, and integrative and inclusive development on the continent. Many factors have been adduced as relevant to understanding xenophobia, from poor social and economic conditions to politics and power struggles, and state failures in the face of rising expectations.

Some of the guiding questions raised in the call for submissions for this special issue include what conceptual, theoretical, and epistemological problems are raised by xenophobia, and what purpose does it serve in thinking about African societies in the 21st century? How can we progressively understand and dialogue about the concept without reifying or essentialising it? Are there ways in which the discourse on xenophobia can be useful in reengaging state failure in Africa while simultaneously affirming the role of power, class, race, and agency of peoples as calculative and coordinated in igniting and perpetrating xenophobic acts and practices? How do we interrogate the representations of what is popularly considered xenophobia and the role of the media, arts, and other creative frames in shaping xenophobic perceptions and attitudes as an everyday reality? In what ways are the crises and violent manifestations of behaviours constructed as xenophobic historically constituted with peculiar continuities and meanings? Of what use are historical affinities, affinitive histories, and historico-comparative gazes for diagnosing, understanding, elaborating, and subverting xenophobic tendencies, attitudes, and practices? How can history (be made to) matter or be instrumentalised to advance a new, better, and more progressive vision of pan-Africanism, collaboration, and humanism? How may we meaningfully and critically spotlight xenophobia as a threat to Pan-Africanism and continental integrations?

The substantial response to the call for submissions served as indication of the timeliness of the special issue and the need for scholars to revisit the phenomenon from diverse vantage points, frames of reference and contexts. The final selection of articles for this special issue was highly competitive and brings together a pleasing range of different perspectives and areas of expertise to contribute to an interdisciplinary exploration of xenophobia in Africa, with full recognition that the South African context is over-represented. This is attributed to the fact that xenophobia as contemporary socio-political phenomenon is so closely associated with the South African context.

The article by Paalo, Adu-Gyamfi and Arthur sets the scene for the special issue by considering how xenophobia poses a challenge for regional integration in Africa. In their consideration, they explore how notions of citizenship and economic participation may facilitate xenophobia, also at state-level, from a wide range of literature including political science, history, peace and conflict studies, migration studies, international relations, development studies and sociology. In their argument, they demonstrate the generative power of xenophobia to construct discourses of belonging or othering, how foreign policy may be shaped by notions of duplicity and retribution leading to violence against non-citizens and how xenophobia reconfigures residency rights and complicates economic access.

In their article, Lotter and Bradshaw, reconceptualise xenophobia in South Africa as Afrophobia from the perspective of conflict transformation. They highlight the contradictions of xenophobic violence (often against African migrants or refugees) in a society that once prided itself on national unity and solidarity with the frontline states that supported the struggle for liberation. The authors argue that future social cohesion for all people living in South Africa is dependent on dedicated interventions combatting xenophobic tendencies and they propose conflict transformation as a means to transform xenophobic violence in South Africa.

Sule offers a philosophical consideration of xenophobia by problematising it through the lens of ubuntu. The author uses xenophobia to conceptually differentiate between ontological ubuntu, as distinctly African humanism, and axiological ubuntu, a normative moral ideal for all humanity. Sule argues that xenophobia and similar exclusionary tendencies render ontological ubuntu as uniquely African philosophy implausible. In its stead, axiological ubuntu is offered as normative ethical philosophy for all humans towards the creation of a more humane society.

From a philosophical consideration of xenophobia, the special issue segues to a historical perspective in the article by Maliehe and Schraten. The authors consider xenophobia in reference to the principle of all-inclusive human rights ensconced in the South African constitution and the concomitant complexities of a post-apartheid democracy deeply intertwined with the competitive world economy. They conceive of xenophobia as a struggle between exclusion and inclusion which they trace historically to nineteenth century imperialism, the colonial accumulation of land under exclusive control and the rise of a global market economy.

In Mavengano's article, the special issue makes a welcome literary turn that explores notions of othering in the novels, One Foreigner's Ordeal by Tavuya Jinga and Harare North by Brian Chikwava, Zimbabwean authors in diaspora in South Africa and the United Kingdom. The author productively utilises a decolonial frame to explore experiences of unbelonging and the desperate search for 'home' from a diasporan perspective.

Viljoen examines the symbolic role of song in relation to Afrophobia in South Africa. The author juxtaposes the politics of fear and othering in political songs endorsing ethno- or Afrophobia with the messages of peace, unity and healing of anti-Afrophobic songs from a range of artists from South Africa such as Boom Shaka, Mthandeni, Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Salif Keita from Mali. The author argues that Afrophobic violence in South Africa can be traced back to apartheid isolation but is also part of a contemporary upsurge in anti-immigrant politics globally. She suggests anti-Afrophobic songs with their messages of unity, peace, harmony and reconciliation as possible remedy to overcome the hatred of the other associated with xenophobia and in particular Afrophobia in South Africa.

Opara considers xenophobia against the backdrop of globalisation and looks beyond xenophobic violence to focus on systemic forms of exclusion specifically directed against West African migrants and the implications thereof for identity formation. They borrow Petkou's concept of 'West-a-phobia' to explore this tendency by focussing on the experiences of migrants from Ghana and Nigeria living in the Western Cape locales of Cape Town and Stellenbosch. This article demonstrates the complex, intersectional identities of transnational migrants from West African countries and how systemic 'West-a-phobia' complicates their sense of belonging, even for those who are South African born citizens with West African ancestry.

In the penultimate article, Petrus reconceptualises xenophobia beyond its conventional understanding as externally directed exclusionary force and argues that it can also be internally directed to marginalise and stigmatise vulnerable minorities. He explores the meaning of xenophobia from an anthropological perspective productively using concepts such as 'ethnocentrism' and 'neo-racism'. By casting xenophobia as ritualised performance or social drama replete with multi-faceted symbolic meanings, he contends that xenophobia can be directed against an externalised 'other', but also against an internalised 'other' where he argues that the existence of gang subcultures in vulnerable coloured communities is indicative of the marginalisation and stigmatisation experienced by these communities as internalised xenophobia.

The special issue concludes with a discourse analysis of prejudicial social media narratives during the COVID-19 pandemic by Hove focussing on negative representations of Zimbabwean migrants as reflected in Tweets between March 2020 and July 2021. The author contends that foreign nationals, such as Zimbabwean migrants, were scapegoated, or 'covidised', reflecting offline biases against foreigners and that such negative representations in social media were sometimes fuelled by government officials towards achieving a particular political objective. The author concludes by arguing that while social media platforms such as Twitter may perpetuate xenophobic tendencies, it may also offer a platform to counter negative representations and to redefine African identities and a sense of belonging.

Xun S and Gilman SL. 2021. I know who caused COVID-19: pandemics and xenophobia. London: Reaktion Books.         [  Links  ]

The University of Edinburgh

What is Xenophobia?

  • Making fun of someone's nationality 
  • Making prejudiced assumptions about a person based on where they come from - for example, saying that all French people like to eat snails. 
  • Imitating or making fun of a person's accent 
  • Saying that someone is not welcome because they are from a different country 
  • Actively excluding someone from events or conversations because of their nationality 
  • Saying hurtful things about a person's culture 
  • Assuming that one culture is better than another 
  • Physically harming or attacking someone because of their nationality 
  • Sending hurtful comments online about someone based on where they are from/where they were born 
  • Hating an entire country because of something that a handful of people from that country have done in the past 
  • Spreading hateful messages about a culture or nationality on social media. 
  • Accusing immigrants of 'stealing jobs or national services' from the native inhabitants of a country. 
  • Using derogatory names or 'nicknames' to refer to a person from a different country. 
  • Not employing someone because they are foreign, even if they are fully qualified for the job and speak the required language fluently. 

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South Africa on the precipice of explosive xenophobic violence: UN experts

GENEVA (15 July 2022) – UN experts* today condemned reports of escalating violence against foreign nationals in South Africa and called for accountability against xenophobia, racism and hate speech that were harming migrants, refugees, asylum seekers and even citizens perceived as foreign throughout the country.

Recent reports indicate that xenophobic violence and discrimination have increased, including under the banner of “Operation Dudula”, originally a social media campaign that has become an umbrella for mobilisation of violent protests, vigilante violence, arson targeting migrant-owned homes and businesses, and even the murder of foreign nationals.

The experts warned that the ongoing xenophobic mobilization was broader and deeper, and has become the central campaign strategy for some political parties in the country. “Anti-migrant discourse from senior government officials has fanned the flames of violence, and government actors have failed to prevent further violence or hold perpetrators accountable,” they said.

“Without urgent action from the government of South Africa to curb the scapegoating of migrants and refugees, and the widespread violence and intimidation against these groups, we are deeply concerned that the country is on the precipice of explosive violence,” the experts said.

The experts noted that xenophobia, especially against low-income, African and South East Asian migrants and refugees, had been a feature of South African politics for many years. In 2008, for example, xenophobic violence resulted in the death of over 60 people and contributed to the displacement of at least 100,000. Xenophobia is often explicitly racialised, targeting low-income Black migrants and refugees and, in some cases, South African citizens accused of being “too Black to be South African.”

In one highly publicised incident in April 2022, a 43-year-old Zimbabwean national and father of four was killed in Diepsloot by a group going door-to-door demanding to see visas. The attackers drove the victim out of a place where he was seeking refuge, beat him and set him on fire. The violence has continued unabated—it is alleged that the burning of the Yeoville Market in Johannesburg on 20 June 2022 was carried out by persons targeting migrant shopkeepers.

The UN experts observed that discrimination against foreign nationals in South Africa has been institutionalised both in government policy and broader South African society. This had led to violations of the right to life and physical integrity and rights to an adequate standard of living and to the highest attainable standard of health, as well as elevated risks of arbitrary detention, torture and refoulement, they said.

The experts also expressed concern over reports that widespread corruption in the South African asylum and migration systems compound these dangerous problems.

“The cost in human dignity and lives, particularly in light of the past 30 years of xenophobic violence, remains widespread and deeply troubling,” the experts said.

“We are gravely concerned that South Africa is not meeting its positive obligations to protect and promote human rights while preventing racial and xenophobic discrimination,” they said.

“At the same time, perpetrators enjoy widespread impunity for xenophobic rhetoric and violence, leading to a lack of accountability for serious human rights violations and the flourishing of racist and xenophobic political platforms.”

The experts urged private and public actors to honour their commitments to human rights and racial justice, and take a firm stand against the racist and xenophobic violence which continues in South Africa.

The UN experts have been in official communication with the South African Government to address these allegations and clarify its obligations under international law.

*The experts: Ms E. Tendayi Achiume , Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance ; Mr. Morris Tidball-Binz , Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions ; Mr. Felipe González Morales , Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants .

Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures , the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

For more information and media requests please contact: Eleanor Robb +41 22 917 9800/ [email protected])

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact Renato de Souza (+41 22 928 9855 / ([email protected]) or Dharisha Indraguptha (+41 79 506 1088 / [email protected])

Follow news related to the UN’s independent human rights experts on Twitter @UN_SPExperts.

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The Struggles of President Biden and the Truth About Aging

President Biden’s silhouette in profile, with a blue hue.

By Rachael Bedard

Dr. Bedard is a physician and writes about medicine and criminal justice.

Last week, President Biden tried to acknowledge and mitigate concerns about his capacity to stay on in the most important job in the world. “I know I’m not a young man, to state the obvious,” he said after a disastrous debate against Donald Trump. “I don’t walk as easy as I used to. I don’t speak as smoothly as I used to. I don’t debate as well as I used to.” But, the president went on, “I know, like millions of Americans know, when you get knocked down, you get back up.”

He was asking Americans to see themselves in him and to recognize his debate performance as both an aberration from and a continuation of who he has always been: a person who may suffer and stumble but whose ambition, commitment and confidence in himself have provided a backstop of resilience against insult and injury.

Reporters and Mr. Biden’s biographers have been reflecting over the past week about the severity and nature of his condition and on whether they missed signs or were duped. Americans are suddenly engaged in a speculative conversation about whether the president is physically and mentally fit to lead the country and whether they can trust his self-assessment. What would it mean for a person to “get back up” who also can’t walk, speak or debate with the ease he once did? And how to make sense of his appearance at the debate and the stories that have emerged since about lapses of memory, naps during the day and occasional bouts of confusion?

I’m a geriatrician, a physician whose specialty is the care of older adults. I watched the debate and saw what other viewers saw: a president valiantly trying to stand up for his record and for his nation but who seemed to have declined precipitously since the State of the Union address he gave only a few months earlier.

As a country, we are not having a complete or accurate discussion of age-related debility. I know no specifics — and won’t speculate here — about Mr. Biden’s clinical circumstances. But in the face of so much confused conjecture, I think it’s important to untangle some of the misunderstanding around what age-related decline may portend. Doing so requires understanding a well-characterized but underrecognized concept: clinical frailty.

As we age, everyone accumulates wear and tear, illness and stress. We can all expect to occasionally lose a night’s sleep, struggle with jet lag, catch a virus, trip and fall or experience side effects from medication. But for young and middle-aged people who are not chronically or seriously ill, these types of insults don’t usually change the way we function in the long term. This is not so for frail elders.

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Politics latest: 'Emergency' prisons plan revealed - as government urged to decriminalise drug possession

The new government is expanding the early release scheme to ease pressure on prisons amid a lack of spaces - amid calls to go further and decriminalise drug posession.

Sunday 14 July 2024 07:15, UK

  • General Election 2024
  • Justice secretary announces 'emergency measures' to tackle prison population 'crisis'
  • Listen to Electoral Dysfunction wherever you get your podcasts
  • New data shows just 708 places left in adult male prison estate last week
  • Decriminalise drug possession, government urged
  • Starmer hits out at 'gross irresponsibility' of previous government
  • Beth Rigby: A whirlwind of international diplomacy for the new PM - but it will only get harder from here
  • Live reporting by Jennifer Scott and (earlier)  Ben Bloch

We are signing off now after a big week in Westminster that saw Labour making its first moves as the new government, and the Conservatives trying to work out what their future in opposition looks like.

But don't worry, we will be back on Sunday morning to cover all the political news from the weekend and bring you the latest with Trevor Phillips. 

See you then!

Friday marks the end of the first full week for hundreds of new MPs who came to Westminster after the general election.

But for some of the newbies, there was an even bigger task coming their way - being promoted to ministers.

Our political reporter Alix Culbertson takes at look at the new Labour politicians who have already found themselves on Sir Keir Starmer's frontbench.

Jess Phillips says there are "still things that I worry about" after the government confirmed it would be letting prisoners out of jail early to help with overcrowding. 

The Labour MP and now minister in the Home Office tells Sky News' Electoral Dysfunction podcast that "by no means is any of this perfect" and the situation was a "terrible, terrible thing". 

She adds: "It's still not something that you would ever want to be doing. And there are still things that I worry about."

But Ms Phillips defends the decision too, especially around the exclusion of domestic abusers and stalkers from the policy, saying it is "a shift from what it was... when the Tories were doing it".

She says: "You do what you can in the initial hours that you have to do it, and that isn't the end.

"We will now work on exactly how to make sure that as many possible safeguards can be put in place for potential victims whose perpetrators are being released."

The full episode of Electoral Dysfunction will be released here later this evening, so keep an eye on your feeds.

The victims' commissioner for England and Wales has welcomed the government's decision to exclude domestic abusers and stalkers from its new early release scheme for prisoners. 

Baroness Newlove called the move a "welcome and necessary step, reflecting the concerns raised by victims and those who advocate for them".

In a statement, she said there needs to be "clear communication with victims" during the process to ensure the government has their trust, including informing them if release dates are brought forward and allowing them to request protection measures. 

She demanded the probation service is "properly resourced to effectively manage licensing conditions and exclusion zones, which are vital for public safety and victim reassurance".

Baroness Newlove added: "Public safety must remain the top priority as these changes are implemented. 

"We must acknowledge these exclusions have limitations and cannot address every potential risk."

The chief inspector of prisons is warning the move by the government to tackle overcrowding in jails will "inevitably lead to the early release of some risky offenders". 

In a statement, Charlie Taylor welcomed the decision by Justice Secretary Shabana Mahmood to release prisoners who had completed 40% of their sentences to free up space, saying the "recognition of the seriousness of the situation, and swift action to manage the prison populations to relieve the immediate strain many jails are under" was positive. 

However, he added: "This latest measure will inevitably lead to the early release of some risky offenders, and will add to the workload of already stretched prison OMUs (offender management units) and probation services.

"How these men are prepared for release and how prisons and probation are supported in managing them will be vital."

Mr Taylor said his organisation will be "watching this very closely - as well as any plans that are developed once the immediate pressure is relieved that seek to make prisons places of genuine purpose, help people to break the cycle of reoffending and protect the public from future harm".

Former home secretary and likely Conservative leadership contender Suella Braverman has blasted the government in a somewhat odd way - namely for "picking up Tory ideas".

As we have just reported, Justice Secretary Shabana Mahmood has announced plans to release prisoners who have served 40% of their sentences to help alleviate overcrowding in jails, subject to some exemptions. 

A similar plan was said to have been proposed by the now former justice secretary Alex Chalk last year, but was understood to have been blocked by Number 10 over fears of a backbench rebellion from Tory MPs. 

Tweeting after the government announcement was made, Ms Braverman said: "I opposed this, both inside & outside government.

"With 40 MPs, I tabled amendments to the Sentencing Bill to stop the early release of criminals and put public safety first.

"We managed to stop the government doing it."

She added: "Labour is picking up Tory ideas and putting the public at risk."

Ms Braverman also claimed "everyone and his mother should run to be leader" of her party when the contest kicks off. 

But she said all contenders have "got to start taking responsibility for what we did, and for the things we shamefully left undone - such as not building enough prisons".

The justice secretary has announced that the government will conduct a review into how the "crisis" in prisons was "allowed to happen".

Shabana Mahmood explained: "It will look at how and why necessary decisions were not taken at critical moments. And the lessons that must be learned by future governments, from the failures of the last."

She added: "The legacy of those who last occupied 10 Downing Street is prisons in crisis, moments from catastrophic disaster.

"Our legacy will be different.

"A prisons system brought under control. A probation service that keeps the public safe. Enough prison places to meet our needs. And prisons that break the cycle of reoffending - and create better citizens, not better criminals."

The justice secretary has set out what would happen if the government does not implement these "emergency measures" to reduce the prison population.

Shabana Mahmood said: "Soon, the courts would grind to a halt, unable to hold trials.

"The police would have to stop carrying out arrests. With officers unable to act, criminals could do whatever they want, without consequence.

"We could see looters running amok, smashing in windows, robbing shops and setting neighbourhoods alight.

"In short, if we fail to act now, we face the collapse of the criminal justice system. And a total breakdown of law and order."

She declared this "the legacy of the last Conservative government" and the consequences of their "failure" to address the issue.

The new justice secretary has placed the blame for the "crisis" in prisons firmly at the door of the previous government.

Shabana Mahmood said of the Conservative Party: "Time and again, they ducked the difficult decisions that could have addressed this challenge.

"Instead, they kept the public in the dark about the state they had left this country in. They were too weak to heed the warning signs that were flashing. They chose instead to put the country at risk."

There have been reports that her predecessor, Alex Chalk, tried to implement the emergency measures she is announcing today in order to ease the crisis, but former PM Rishi Sunak blocked it.

"But, instead of taking responsibility, she said, "Rishi Sunak called an election. He tried to hoodwink the electorate. And he was punished at the ballot box."

Echoing language used to describe the people who appeased the Nazis in the 1930s, Ms Mahmood said: "Those responsible – Sunak and his gang in No 10 – should go down in history as the guilty men.

"The guilty men who put their political careers ahead of the safety and security of our country. It was the most disgraceful dereliction of duty I have ever known."

By Mollie Malone, news correspondent

These measures from the justice secretary will be seen among the prison and probation sector as a proper attempt to reset and alleviate the immediate prisons crisis (see previous post).

But it doesn’t solve everything. Far from it.

The justice secretary admits today that the core announcement to lower the automatic release point from 50% to 40% is in itself an emergency measure.

At the moment, we are lurching from one emergency measure to the next.

There are safeguards in place that didn't exist under the previous controversial scheme launched by the Conservative government in October - allowing eligible offenders to be released up to 70 days before the end of their sentence.

Those safeguards might help offset some fears expressed by victims groups.

But it certainly doesn't offer a long term solution.

"Although it will be a law, it still does not resolve how we use prison in the long term," said one prison source.

"If we carry on with court backlogs and send more people to prison, we will be in the same position all over again," they said.

The government are committing to building more prison places.

But their prisons minister James Timpson fundamentally disagrees with that approach and thinks a third of people that are in prison shouldn't be there

There are lots of questions yet to answer about what meaningful reform looks like.

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xenophobia essay body

It’s John Roberts’s Supreme Court after all

When you look at his body of work, his power becomes clear. this is john roberts’s court, and the other justices are just sitting on it..

John Roberts deserves credit for the court’s issuance last November of a written code of ethics.

Over the past few years — and the past few months, weeks, and days — the Supreme Court has reminded us of its power. As nine justices resolve major issues of national importance, from abortion to gun rights to all things Trump, they have attracted increasing scrutiny — and understandably so.

Much ink has been spilled over individual justices. We have read at great length about Justice Clarence Thomas’s vacations and Justice Samuel Alito’s flags (or, to be more precise, his wife’s flags ). On a more substantive level, commentators have focused on the court’s two newest members, Justices Amy Coney Barrett and Ketanji Brown Jackson , who have demonstrated their independence from the conservative and liberal wings, respectively.

Relatively little attention has been paid to the “first among equals,” Chief Justice John Roberts — and one can understand why. The unassuming Roberts makes few public appearances, rarely speaks to the press, stays out of ethical trouble, and doesn’t write books. One of the least publicity-seeking justices since David Souter, Roberts prefers to speak through his work.

And when you look at that body of work — whether you admire it, abhor it, or something in between — his power and influence become clear. This is John Roberts’s court, and the other justices are just sitting on it.

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First, Roberts is important simply because of his vote. In the term that just ended, he was the justice most frequently in the majority; according to Adam Feldman of Empirical SCOTUS , Roberts was on the winning side a staggering 96 percent of the time. For the two terms prior to that , Roberts was in the majority an average of 95 percent of the time, second in 2022 only to Justice Brett Kavanaugh. In contrast, the two justices who were in the majority the least this past term, Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, were in the majority only 71 percent of the time.

To be sure, Roberts might not be as powerful as he was four years ago . Before Barrett replaced the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 2020, creating a six-justice conservative bloc that could lose a vote and still prevail, Roberts was both chief and swing justice. But even if he’s no longer the swing justice, he remains a swing justice. As noted by court watcher Sarah Isgur, today’s court is a “3-3-3″ court , consisting of three liberals, three staunch conservatives, and three justices — Roberts, Kavanaugh, and Barrett — who control the outcomes in divided cases.

Second, Roberts has issued some of the court’s most consequential opinions. This shouldn’t be surprising: As the most senior justice, he assigns the opinion when he’s in the majority (which, as noted, is almost always the case). And there are certain opinions, especially ones reviewing major executive actions, that are expected to come from a chief justice. One of the most famous examples is the 2012 opinion upholding the Affordable Care Act, written by — you guessed it — Roberts.

Consider Roberts’s opinions from just the most recent term. He wrote Trump v. United States , which will go down in history as one of the most important precedents on presidential power; Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo , which overruled the 40-year-old Chevron doctrine and could dramatically curtail the power of administrative agencies; Fischer v. United States , which narrowly interpreted an obstruction-of-justice law, possibly benefiting hundreds of Jan. 6, 2021, defendants (including Donald Trump); and United States v. Rahimi , which cabined the court’s 2022 ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, hopefully keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people.

And that’s only the latest term. Over the past five terms, Roberts has authored opinions like Students for Fair Admissions Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College , which ruled against racial preferences in college admissions; Biden v. Nebraska , which held unlawful the Biden administration’s student loan forgiveness program; West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency , which rejected the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, based on an increasingly important legal theory called the “major questions doctrine”; and Allen v. Milligan and Moore v. Harper , two critically important cases about election law.

Third, and finally, Roberts exerts influence through his leadership of the court. I realize some progressives are laughing right now, given their narrative that Roberts has lost control of the court to right-wing ideologues, but let me explain.

Despite his grandiose title of “chief justice,” Roberts is not the leader of the court in the way that a chief executive officer is the leader of a company. Unlike a CEO, he can’t fire his colleagues or tell them what to do. Yes, he assigns opinions when in the majority, presides over courtroom proceedings, and speaks first at the justices’ private conferences. But other than these and similar responsibilities (and a slightly higher salary), he’s just like his other colleagues, one vote out of nine.

Of course, the chief justice can try to persuade or pressure his colleagues to vote in certain ways, especially in high-profile cases. And while we don’t know what happened behind the scenes at One First St., some facts suggest he has been doing just that — successfully.

In the 2023-2024 term, 46 percent of cases were decided unanimously — a significant increase from the 35 percent average of the preceding five terms. One of those cases was Trump v. Anderson , concerning Trump’s eligibility to appear on the Republican primary ballot in Colorado — a highly contentious, politically charged case, where it benefited the reputation of the court to present a united front. It wouldn’t be surprising if Roberts — trying to improve the court’s weak (but improving ) approval rating, during extremely polarized times — made extra efforts during this past term to forge compromise.

What about the complaint that Roberts failed to police the ethics of his colleagues? Again, remember: He’s not the boss of them, and other than attempts at persuasion, he lacks any tools for regulating their behavior. His duties as chief justice do not include telling associate justices where to vacation or what flags they — or their wives — can fly.

In light of his limited power over his colleagues, Roberts deserves credit for the court’s issuance last November of a written code of ethics — the first such code in the 235-year history of the court. It would have been easy for the justices to do nothing, allowing the storm of bad publicity to blow over. The fact that they did issue a code — which required unanimity from nine people who clearly hold different views on their ethical obligations — was itself an achievement. Even if it lacks enforcement provisions, the code establishes standards against which the media and the public can evaluate the justices’ conduct.

It’s customary to refer to periods in Supreme Court history based on the chief justice, such as the Warren Court or the Rehnquist Court — but this doesn’t mean the chief justice controlled the direction of the court. For many years of the Rehnquist and Roberts Courts, two swing justices, Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Anthony Kennedy, called the shots, at least in the most controversial cases.

For better or worse, those days are gone. Make no mistake: The Roberts Court is Roberts’s court.

David Lat, a lawyer, is the author of Original Jurisdiction , a newsletter about law and the legal profession.

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  1. 5 Essays About Xenophobia

    5 Essays About Xenophobia. The word "xenophobia" has ties to the Greek words "xenos," which means "stranger or "guest," and "phobos," which means "fear" or "flight.". It makes sense that today we define "xenophobia" as a fear or hatred of strangers or foreigners. Xenophobia has always existed, but the world has ...

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    Looking for clues, psychiatrist and historian George Makari started out in search of the idea's origins. To his astonishment, he discovered that while a fear and hatred of strangers may be ancient, the notion of a dangerous bias called "xenophobia" arose not so long ago. Coined by late-nineteenth-century doctors and political commentators ...

  3. Xenophobia: Definition, Symptoms, Traits, Causes

    History. Xenophobia, or fear of strangers, is a broad term that may be applied to any fear of someone different from an individual. Hostility towards outsiders is often a reaction to fear. It typically involves the belief that there is a conflict between an individual's ingroup and an outgroup. Xenophobia often overlaps with forms of prejudice ...

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    Xenophobia is a phenomenon integrally related to race and empire. It is generated by and, in turn, fuels the dynamic of difference that always undergirds colonial and neocolonial occupation and exploitation. Xenophobia serves to legitimize and empower states rooted in the colonial world order, including the contemporary American settler state.

  5. "They Have Robbed Me of My Life"

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  7. (PDF) Understanding Xenophobia in South Africa: The Individual, the

    The 2015 xenophobic attacks are a fresh reminder of anti-immigrant sentiments in South Africa. Since the 2008 xenophobic violence in the country, there has been a growing literature on xenophobia ...

  8. PDF Xenophobia: Understanding the Roots and Consequences of Negative

    Xenophobia is typically related to times of economic and political instability or imbalance that result in the migra-tion of large groups of people across borders as well as to the host com-munity's reaction of feeling threatened by the newcomers (Esses et al., 2001; Marsella & Ring, 2003).

  9. Xenophobia in the United States: Structural Drivers

    Xenophobia is on the rise, globally and within the United States, targeting individuals and groups based on their perceived "foreignness." In 2016 experts warned the United Nations (UN) General Assembly of a worldwide resurgence of racism and xenophobia targeting migrants, refugees, and people of African descent and, in 2021, the General Assembly created a new Permanent Forum of People of ...

  10. Understanding Xenophobia in South Africa: The Individual, the State and

    Smith M. (2011). Violence, xenophobia and the media: A review of the South African media's coverage of xenophobia and the xenophobic violence prior to and including the events of 2008. Politikon: South African Journal of Political Studies, 38(1), 111-29.

  11. What Is Xenophobia? Types & Effects

    Xenophobia refers to the fear, hatred, or prejudice against strangers or people perceived as foreign or different from one's community or culture. It involves hostility and perceived conflict towards those considered an "outgroup.". Xenophobia originates from the Greek words "xenos" meaning "stranger" and "phobos" meaning ...

  12. PDF Xenophobia in South Africa Nomsa Dumani

    This essay is set to discuss and explore the validity of xenophobia in South Africa. A country that was once a victim of brutality, slavery and hatred towards the black minority. The essay will explain the concept of race and racism and xenophobia of and how it has affected South Africa as a country, its citizens and other countries surrounding it.

  13. Introduction: Understanding Xenophobia in Africa

    Migration and Xenophobia in Africa. Colonialism militarised African societies and imposed a violent character upon the state, leading to the institutionalization of a culture of violence within the state and society. This explains the diverse forms of political instability, insurgency, terrorism and civil war experienced in many African countries.

  14. Xenophobia, nationalism and techniques of difference

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  15. South Africa on the precipice of explosive xenophobic violence: UN

    In 2008, for example, xenophobic violence resulted in the death of over 60 people and contributed to the displacement of at least 100,000. Xenophobia is often explicitly racialised, targeting low-income Black migrants and refugees and, in some cases, South African citizens accused of being "too Black to be South African."

  16. Xenophobia: Understanding the Roots and Consequences of Negative

    Historical and contemporary expressions of xenophobia in the United States are examined and compared with cross-cultural scholarship on negative attitudes toward immigrants. Last, suggestions are provided for how counseling psychologists can integrate an understanding of xenophobia into their clinical practice, training, research, and public ...

  17. xenophobia and racism

    xenophobia and racism. david haekwon kim and ronald r. sundstrom. University of San Francisco. critical philosophy of race, vol. 2, no. 1, 2014. ity Park, PAAbstractXenophobia is conceptually. distinct from racism. Xenophobia is also d. stinct from nativism. Furthermore, theories of racism are largely ensconced in nationalized narratives of ...

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    Xenophobia (from Ancient Greek: ξένος , "strange, foreign, or alien", and φόβος (phóbos), "fear") is the fear or dislike of anything which is perceived as being foreign or strange.

  19. Causes of Xenophobia and How You Can Fight It

    A recent example of xenophobia is the increased number of incidences of violence in the U.S. against Asian-Americans since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. Several cities across the U.S. have ...

  20. Introduction to the special issue: xenophobia in Africa

    The African Centre for Migration and Society (ACMS) reports that the xenophobic attacks in South Africa, which peaked in 2008 and 2015, led to the destruction of property and caused displacements, injuries, and deaths. Beyond the South African context, xenophobia has a long history in Africa. Indeed, xenophobia may even manifest as Afrophobia ...

  21. Xenophobia: Meaning, signs, examples, and stopping it

    Xenophobia is the fear, hatred, and distrust of outsiders. It harms not only immigrants but anyone that the dominant group in a society deems strange or foreign. It is not a phobia in the medical ...

  22. What is Xenophobia?

    Learn more about Xenophobia, its traits, causes and symptoms. Learn more about The University of Edinburgh's support and guidance for students who have experienced any forms of discrimination. The Advice Place is run by the Student's Association and is a third party crime reporting site. If you are a victim of a crime, they can support you. You can call 999 in an emergency to speak to Police ...

  23. South Africa on the precipice of explosive xenophobic violence: UN

    GENEVA (15 July 2022) - UN experts* today condemned reports of escalating violence against foreign nationals in South Africa and called for accountability against xenophobia, racism and hate ...

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  26. Opinion

    When you look at his body of work, his power becomes clear. This is John Roberts's court, and the other justices are just sitting on it. By David Lat Updated July 8, 2024, 3:00 a.m.