Psychiatrist and psychoanalyst George Makari, the head of the department of history of psychiatry at Cornell who is also a historian, has written a timely new book Of Fear and Strangers: A History of Xenophobia.
By 2016 when it was impossible not to notice an international resurgence of xenophobia. What had happened? Looking for clues he started out in search of the idea’s origins. To his astonishment, he discovered an unfolding series of never-told stories. While a fear and hatred of strangers may be ancient, he found that 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. In his new book the author investigates these forces alongside the writings of figures such as Joseph Conrad, Albert Camus, and Richard Wright, and innovators like Walter Lippmann, Sigmund Freud, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and Frantz Fanon. In the end, Of Fear and Strangers pulls together the most critical contributions, to help us comprehend the “New Xenophobia” we now face.
Dr. Gail Saltz joins him in conversation about xenophobia — then and now.
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