Robert Braun

Comparative Politics Colloquium: “Bloodlines: National Border Crossings and Antisemitism in Weimar Germany”

February 17 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Co-sponsored by the Erasmus + Jean Monnet Projects and the Comparative Politics Colloquium of the Department of Political Science.

Robert Braun, Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of California Berkley

This project argues that national border crossings act as focal points for xenophobia. The convergence of two distinct mechanisms produces this pattern. First, when the nation-state is under pressure, border crossings make cross-national differences salient, producing a perceived link between international forces and socio-economic problems among those who are losing social status. Second, border crossings come to symbolize international threats and attract aggressive nationalist mobilization by radical movements. In this distinct spatial landscape, ethnic outsiders – groups that transcend the nation – become scapegoats for broader social problems facing the community. I develop my argument through the study of local variation in antisemitism in Weimar Germany before the Holocaust. Statistical analysis of Jewish bogeyman and an in-depth exploration of local reports on antisemitism reveal how pluralism in the Weimar Republic started eroding among small business owners and farmers living at the margins of the state. In doing so, I demonstrate that borders between nations activate borders within nations, to shed new light on the complicated relationship between pluralism and state formation by drawing attention to the spatial sources of xenophobia.

See this event on the European Studies calendar.