A History of Xenophobia

The key question the series grapples with is: what causes xenophobia?

Dr Irial Glynn, UCD

History Hub presents – A history of xenophobia: from the goldmines to the rise of the far right today – a series of interviews between our editor Dr Irial Glynn, and a number of leading experts on the history of xenophobia.

The key question the series grapples with is: what causes xenophobia? Why are certain people hostile towards or afraid of immigrants or of people who come from different cultural backgrounds?

Does it stem from anger related to a real or perceived decline in living standards? Does it reflect discomfort with the pace of social change or increasing societal diversity? Or is it connected to the arrival of charismatic and innovative politicians and well-organised far right parties?

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Episode 11: Elizabeth Buettner – Europe After Empire: The response to (post)colonial migration in Europe

About Elizabeth Buettner

Elizabeth Buettner has been Professor of Modern History at the University of Amsterdam since 2014. Her research has centered on British imperial, social, cultural, and migration history since the late nineteenth century along with other European nations’ histories of late colonialism, decolonization, and their domestic ramifications.

Key publications include:

Empire Families: Britons and Late Imperial India (Oxford University Press);

Europe after Empire: Decolonization, Society, and Culture (Cambridge University Press);


Decolonizing Colonial Heritage: New Agendas, Actors and Practices in and beyond Europe (Routledge).

Episode 10: William Brustein – Anti-Semitism in Europe before the Holocaust

About William Brustein

William Brustein is Eberly Family Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History at West Virginia University where he was also formerly Vice President for Global Strategies and International Affairs.

He has published widely in the areas of political extremism and ethnic/religious/racial prejudice. His publications include:

with Louisa Roberts: The Socialism of Fools?: Leftist Origins of Modern Anti-Semitism (Cambridge University Press),

Roots of Hate: Anti-Semitism in Europe Before the Holocaust (Cambridge University Press), and

The Logic of Evil: The Social Origins of the Nazi Party, 1925-1933 (Yale University Press)

Episode 9: Maddalena Marinari – Unwanted: American restrictionism and Italian and Jewish immigrants, 1882-1924

About Maddalena Marinari

Dr Maddalena Marinari is Associate Professor in History at Gustavus College in Minnesota. Maddalena has published extensively on immigration restriction and immigrant mobilization.

She is the author of Unwanted: Italian and Jewish Mobilization Against Restrictive Immigration Laws, 1882-1965 which came out in 2020 with University of North Carolina Press, and provides the foundation for much of the discussion in this episode since it focuses on US opposition to Italian and Jewish immigrants in the late 19th century and early 20th century and outlines how Italian and Jewish communities in the US responded.

Something that also informed the discussion is a special issue of the Journal of American History from 2022 that Maddalena co-edited with Erika Lee on the Immigration Act of 1924, which saw the US introduce an immigration quota system that substantially restricted immigration until the mid-1960s. Maddelena also co-edited, with Maria Cristina Garcia and Madeline Hsu, A Nation of Immigrants Reconsidered: U.S. Society in an Age of Restriction, 1924-1965 and she has a second related co-edited anthology coming out in 2023 with Maria Cristina Garcia titled Whose America? U.S. Immigration Policy since 1980 with the University of Illinois Press.

Maddelena is also one of the scholars behind the excellent #ImmigrationSyllabus, an online tool for anyone interested in understanding the history behind current debates on immigration in the US.

Episode 8: Kathryn Pillay – Indian Migrants in South Africa, 1860s-1900s

About Kathryn Pillay

Dr Kathryn Pillay is senior lecturer in sociology at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Her areas of teaching and research include that of ‘race’, migration, identity and belonging. Her most recent publication is the co-edited volume, Relating Worlds of Racism – Dehumanisation, Belonging and the Normativity of European Whiteness (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019), which unmasks and foregrounds the ways in which notions of European whiteness have found form in a variety of global contexts that continue to sustain racism as an operational norm resulting in exclusion, violence, human rights violations, isolation and limited full citizenship for individuals who are not racialised as white.

Episode 7: Mae Ngai – The Chinese Question: The Gold Rushes and Global Politics

About Mae Ngai

Mae M. Ngai is Lung Family Professor of Asian American Studies and Professor of History, and Co-Director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race at Columbia University. She is a U.S. legal and political historian interested in the histories of immigration, citizenship, nationalism, and the Chinese diaspora. She is author of the award winning Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America (2004); The Lucky Ones: One Family and the Extraordinary Invention of Chinese America (2010); and The Chinese Question: The Gold Rushes and Global Politics (2021). Ngai has written on immigration history and policy for the Washington Post, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, the Atlantic, the Nation, and Dissent. Before becoming a historian she was a labor-union organizer and educator in New York City, working for District 65-UAW and the Consortium for Worker Education. She is now writing Nation of Immigrants: A Short History of an Idea (under contract with Princeton University Press).

Episode 6: Marilyn Lake – Drawing the Global Colour Line: White Men’s Countries and the International Challenge of Racial Equality

About Marilyn Lake

Marilyn Lake AO is Professorial Fellow in History at the University of Melbourne. Her books include ‘Drawing the Global Line: White men’s countries and the international challenge of racial equality’, co-authored with Henry Reynolds and published by Cambridge University Press; and ‘Progressive New World: How TransPacific exchange and settler colonialism shaped American reform’, published by Harvard University Press in 2019.

Episode 5: Hidetaka Hirota – Irish migrants in mid-19th century Boston and New York

About Hidetaka Hirota

Hidetaka Hirota is Associate Professor in the Department of History at University of California Berkeley. He is a social and legal historian of the United States specializing in immigration. His major areas of research are the nineteenth-century United States; American immigration law and policy; the U.S. and the World; and transnational history. He is particularly interested in the history of American nativism and immigration control. His published works have examined the origins and early developments of U.S. immigration policy from the antebellum period to the Progressive Era. Adopting a social and legal history approach, his scholarship pays equal attention to the legal dimension of immigration control and the practical implementation of immigration laws on the ground.

Episode 4: Leo Lucassen – Mob violence towards labour migrants: from medieval England to 1930s Myanmar

About Leo Lucassen

Leo Lucassen is Professor of Global Labour and Migration History and director of the International Institute of Social History (IISH). His research focuses on Global Migration History, Integration, Migration Systems, Migration Controls, Gypsies and the state, State Formation and Modernity, and Urban History. Leo wants to stimulate interdisciplinary research on migration history and contribute to the public debate on migration.

Episode 3: Elisabeth Ivarsflaten – Gender and the Radical Right

About Elisabeth Ivarsflaten

Elisabeth Ivarsflaten is a Professor in the Department of Comparative Politics at the University of Bergen. She is the principal investigator of the Digital Social Science Core Facility (DIGSSCORE) and the Norwegian Citizen Panel at the University of Bergen.

Ivarsflaten holds a Ph.D. from the University of Oxford and was a Postdoctoral Prize Research Fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford, before joining the University of Bergen faculty. She specializes in the study of public opinion and political parties. Her research has appeared in the American Journal of Political Science, Comparative Political Studies, the European Journal of Political Research, and other peer-reviewed journals. Much of Ivarsflaten research, teaching and writing explores radical extreme right parties and social movements. She has also been engaged for many years in the development and application of innovative survey research.

Episode 2: Ruth Wodak – Politics of Fear

About Ruth Wodak

Ruth Wodak is an Austrian linguist, who is Emeritus Distinguished Professor and Chair in Discourse Studies in the Department of Linguistics and English Language at Lancaster University and Professor in Linguistics at the University of Vienna.

Her research is mainly located in discourse studies and in critical discourse analysis. Her books include: ‘The Politics of Fear: What Right-Wing Populist Discourses Mean’ and ‘The Discourse of Politics in Action: Politics as Usual’.

Episode 1: Lars Rensmann – Explaining demand and supply-side factors behind nativists’ success

About Lars Rensmann

Lars Rensmann is Professor of Political Science and Comparative Government at the University of Passau, Germany. Before joining Passau’s faculty, he was Professior European Politics and Society and Founding Director of the Research Centre for the Study of Democratic Cultures and Politics at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands, where he also served as the Chair of the Department of European Languages and Cultures and led the chair group of European Politics and Society. He is a member of several scientific and editorial boards, including the Journal of International Political Theory.

Series introduction with Irial Glynn and Yanli Xie