OF FEAR AND STRANGERS
A History of Xenophobia
By George Makari
Over the summer and fall of 1900, as the Universal Exposition was underway in Paris, French newspapers published a series of reports on a fearsome threat suddenly emerging from China: “la xénophobie,” they dubbed it. At the same time that their capital feted the dawn of globalization and the earth’s inexorable flattening, readers in France were informed that conflict with “les xénophobes” was a dangerous part of the new reality.
The trouble had begun the previous winter when a group of pauperized villagers from Shandong Province, with an aptitude for martial arts and believing themselves impervious to gunfire, chanted “destroy the foreigners” as they mounted a hopeless insurrection against the European missionaries and colonizers taking over their country. The Boxer Rebellion, George Makari argues in “Of Fear and Strangers: A History of Xenophobia,” his…