The IES European Transitions Speaker Series: Robert Braun

October 30, 2020

12:15pm – 1:45pm
Robert Braun, University of California, Berkeley

Bloodlines: National Border Crossings and Antisemitism in Weimar Germany 


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Abstract – Dr. Braun 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. Braun develops his argument through the study of local variation in antisemitism in Weimar Germany before the Holocaust. Statistical analysis of Jewish bogeyman and in-depth explorations of local reports on antisemitism reveal how Weimar pluralism started eroding among small business owners and market producing farmers living at the margins of the state. Through the demonstration that borders between nations activate borders within nations, this paper sheds new light on the  complicated relationship between pluralism and state formation by drawing attention to the spatial sources of xenophobia.