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Contemporary Xenophobia

The term immigrant can be used to define a foreign-born who seeks permanent or semi-permanent residency in the host country. And the fear of the immigrant is Xenophobia. The three basic types of immigrants are legal immigrant, refugees and illegal /undocumented migrant workers. The topic of concern is the legal immigrants are those who temporarily live in another country on student visas to pursue education overseas. There exist agencies like AEMC, GSA etc world over, who counsel and help students obtain offer letters for education from renowned world-class universities. However, the visa rules for different countries constantly changing. In the contemporary, the added plight of the pandemic situation has made the visa rules even stringent.

Pandemic and Xenophobia

The perfect partners in crime!

Epidemics indeed represent propitious times to scapegoat marginal communities, here immigrants, thereby heightening Xenophobia scare(Onoma, 2019). For instance, I recall at the start of the Covid-19 spread, many American uber drivers didn’t receive passengers because of their Chinese/ Asian descent. Hence they were looked down upon during such desperate times. The main psychology behind maybe that Asians or their ancestry belonging to third world countries might bring along specific germs and viruses from their places of origin. This mentality is often embedded in broader anxieties about migrants and their poor health, lack of attention to personal hygiene, poor nutritional habits and resistance of public health interventions(Faulkner et al. 2004; Mason 2012; Statt 1995; Trauner 1978). Chinese immigrants might have faced indirect accusations on the grounds of being “ungrateful” migrants by deliberately spreading diseases as a form of biopolitical warfare against generous host communities.

Another example is the infamous presidential candidacy speech given by President Donald Trump who mainly raised emphasis on anti-immigrant policy. The ideology of Trump explained it as necessary to uproot unwanted immigrants. The irony is that America stands as one of the oldest land of immigrants,  founded by immigrants, snatched from the indigenous Indians, to be later named as The United States after Declaration of independence from the political connections of Great Britain. A fun fact is that the Statue of Liberty is also known as the Queen of Exiles. Here, given below is poem displaying that America is the land of immigrants and freedom, where the statue of liberty would always look after those the immigrants fleeing turmoil and poverty by giving them home and shelter with a promise of an assured future. Fun enough?..

The New Colossus
(enshrined on the Statue of Liberty in New York City)
...A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles(another name of the statue of liberty)
… “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
…Send these, the homeless ..to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
~ Emma Lazarus

On New and Old Xenophobia

Traces of Old Xenophobia:
“In the last 66 years we as a nation, as a race has had our national identity was stolen from us by politicians who have forced us to accept multiculturalism. They have and still are practising cultural genocide on their own people, despite warnings that we will not accept it..depriving us of our integrity as distinct peoples, …violating or undermining.. rights of the native or indigenous people. Any form of assimilation or integration by other cultures or ways of life,
imposed on us by legislative, administrative or other measures is cultural genocide.” ~ example by Khair(2016).
1

While the old form of xenophobia stresses on how the indigenous people are affected by measures of pro-multiculturalism politicians. It is indeed racist and hence discriminates on the basis of biologically inherited differences between the natives and other foreign ethnic identities. Being xenophobic they even associate Cultural genocide with physical death.

Traces of New Xenophobia

‘Muslim Bombers Off Our Streets.’ ‘Extremist Muslims Go to Hell.’ ‘British Voters Say No to Sharia Law.’ ‘Long Live the Free.

~ Khair, 2016. 2

On the other hand, the new form of Xenophobia is very straightforward on refereeing to the other religion in concern to be practising extremism and having no sense of freedom. It doesn’t oppose to physical difference as in case of old Xenophobia; it only opposes any manifestation of physical difference. For instance, Muslims cannot build minarets or dress in certain kinds of clothes in public spaces. Thus, Racism, Islamophobia, antisemitism, and other forms of prejudice are often directed specifically toward individuals identified as immigrants.

Further into New Xenophobia

In today’s world xenophobia isn’t just about blood, genetics, inheritance, heredity as in old times. It has managed to adapt much beyond physical differences into the world of globalization. Even though globalization has made it even more possible for the capital to traverse into different parts of the globe, however, it mustn’t do so in order to protect the prosperity of the gated first world nations?

In layman terms, the main contradiction that the prosperity of the first world depending on the freedom of ‘global’ capital while its privileges depending on the control of global labour(from the third world countries) –Translates into the New Xenophobia.

First World countries like the USA, Canada, Australia, and even Japan, allow their citizens to move, work, and settle with relative freedom to other countries, is basically  less applicable to Third World countries, whose citizens have less chance to enter these countries or work there. Old xenophobia constructed the stranger in terms of physicality or materiality while the new Xenophobia works on the difference between the abstract operation of capital as power.

You never know when the feared and detested stranger in our stock-market-linked cities is the one who disrupts the smooth circulation of the abstract power of capital ? Since their values inherited from different cultural upbringing might run against the idealist nature of first world nation commerce and its self-claimed values: freedom, democracy, equality, etc…

How to make the way beyond Xenophobia

There are many ways to eliminate Xenophobia as mentioned below.

  • ‘Educate’ people. Taylor states that ‘the great challenge of this century, both for politics and for social science, is that of understanding the other’(Khair, T. 2016). The individuals and groups must share a sense of understanding of cultural prejudices to reduce their practice accordingly.
  • The culture was never capital before, however, now it is the capital that makes a particular aspect of culture profitable. In the High capitalist and money economy, capital pervades all in due course, reduces everything else to disposable means. Here everything runs on capital and labour. For instance, you do not possess cultural capital if you speak Bhojpuri, Urdu, Tamil or Hindi. Rather it is the English, French or German speakers since the capital is largely circulated via communication in these.
  • Not just education but action. Xenophobia cannot be prevented by education of self in these aspects. It has to be prevented through action, which can only be done by ensuring a fair and equal chance to all, including strangers, under any structure of power. Countries like Australia have the education sector as the third highly economy stimulating sector. It consists of world-class universities (for instance G08) and provides access to students around the globe to avail their education and experience from Australia all at the same time financing their economy through the aggregate tuition fee generated from these universities. These funds are used for the welfare of its permanent residents.

The usual attempt to curtail xenophobia by preaching love and mutual respect or espousing multiculturalism—in short, educating people, as individuals or groups is seriously limited because xenophobia is not primarily about people. It is about power.

-Khair, T. (2016)
  • structural changes are needed in capital circulation. The difference between the developed and developing states is the degree of socio-economic initiatives implemented. For instance, whether working or not, for instance, claim for unemployment benefits include the Australian Government paying its permanent residents an amount of 3,500 AUD per month. This is more than what an average Indian earns per month. Another example is free education for Germans and other health benefits provided to residents in first world countries.
  • we need to systematically hold not just our bankers and capitalists, but also our legislators and politicians responsible. Media transparency would  play a crucial role as they should spread the real structural problems.

In conclusion, I am a student studying overseas and sees a borderless world. However, this experience comes with certain privileges. My experience as a college student provides me, through their academic and non-academic programmes, ample opportunity for intercultural education and cohesion between divergent social groups. The youth like myself must collectively aim at pursuing education with a promise to contribute towards a fairer society by not only educating but also influencing its societal structure socially and economically.

References

Khair, T. (2016-01-28). The New Xenophobia. : Oxford University Press. Retrieved 4 Dec. 2020, from https://oxford.universitypressscholarship.com/view/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199463589.001.0001/acprof-9780199463589.

Yakushko, O. F., & SpringerLink. (2018). Modern-day xenophobia : critical historical and theoretical perspectives on the roots of anti-immigrant prejudice. Retrieved from: Modern-Day Xenophobia | SpringerLink

Akande, Musarurwa, H. J., & Sylvia Blanche Kaye, B. K. (2018). Students’ attitudes and perceptions on xenophobia: A study of a university in Durban. Journal of Student Affairs in Africa, 6(2) doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.24085/jsaa.v6i2.3307

Notes

(1) Quoted by Kundnani in ‘Twenty-First-Century Crusaders’, p. 45, from an official Facebook message posted by EDL on its page on 16 November 2011

(2) Slogans from early EDL protests, quoted by Kundnani in ‘Twenty-First-Century Crusaders’, pp. 41–2.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sarah Singh (@whozsaraah), Pursuing Bachelor of Business and Commerce (Business Analytics), Monash University. For more information refer to @aemcworld  @preeti_gsa  @unisnapforsa

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