Sociology Department Colloquium: Robert Braun
Please join us for a colloquium being given by Robert Braun, Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley.
Bogeymen: National Border Crossings and Antisemitism in Weimar Germany
This paper argues that national border crossings act as focal points for xenophobia. Two mechanisms converge to produce 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 of vulnerable social classes. Second, border crossings come to symbolize international threats and attract aggressive nationalist mobilization by radical movements who frame ethnic outsiders as an international evil. In this distinct spatial landscape, ethnic outsiders become scapegoats for broader social problems among those losing social status. 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 members of the lower middle class living at the margins of the state. In doing so, I draw attention to the spatial sources of xenophobia and demonstrate that borders between nations activate borders within nations, shedding new light on the complicated relationship between pluralism and state formation.