Textual Research

Program of study: General Social Science

Investigative Question: Are we doomed to xenophobia and racism?


Non-academic sources


Winters, Jeffrey. “Why We Fear the Unknown.” Psychology Today, 01 May 2002, https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200205/why-we-fear-the-unknown.

This article investigates the idea of xenophobia and how it plays a role in why humans fear the unknown. This source will enrich my article because it suggests that humans are designed to only think highly of themselves, thus degrading the attributes of minority groups. By fearing the idea that their attributes are more enhanced than our own, we are perpetuating a cycle of racism and bigotry. Because of our human nature for constant self-betterment, the notions of racism, classism, sexism and so on, will tend to repeat themselves throughout history and evolve into other concepts such as Islamophobia and anti-Semitism.


Tharoor, Ishaan. “What Americans thought of Jewish refugees on the eve of World War II.” The Washington Post, 17 November 2015, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2015/11/17/what-americans-thought-of-jewish-refugees-on-the-eve-of-world-war-ii/?utm_term=.561a08e1bcb8.

Tharoor, Ishaan. “Yes, the comparison between Jewish and Syrian refugees matters.” The Washington Post, 19 November 2015, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2015/11/19/yes-the-comparison-between-jewish-and-syrian-refugees-matters/?tid=a_inl&utm_term=.d1c28b0d4074.

These two articles make stark and shocking comparisons between our past and present refugee situation – the 20th century Jewish refugees vs. the 21st century Syrian refugees. These articles may be a great addition to my feature article because they prove that humans do not learn from their past. In fact, they continue to engage in the same bigot and racist attitudes, of the past, due to fear of the unknown. In this era, ‘the unknown’ are the Syrians. “Of course, there are huge historical and contextual differences between then and now. But, as Post columnist Dana Milbank notes, it is hard to ignore the echoes of the past when faced with the “xenophobic bidding war” of the [present]” (Tharoor).


Roediger, Henry L. and Andrew K. DeSoto. “The Power of Collective Memory.” Scientific American, 28 June 2016, https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-power-of-collective-memory/.

This article highlights the idea of collective memory and how it is subject to change over generations. This source can be a useful reference because it examines the notion of collective remembering as well as collective forgetting. Collective remembering is essential in order to grasp something essential about a country’s national identity and outlook. The way memory is retained differs from person to person thus leaving space for much misinterpretation, however it can reveal a lot about their personality and worldview. What people remember shape their opinions and experiences. Therefore, if one remembers the attack on Pearl Harbor during World War II as a negative and detrimental experience, then they will hold shameful and negative views about the Japanese in fear that they are stronger than them and that they may strike again. The idea of collective forgetting on the other hand perpetuates the cycle of the repetition of history. An event is more likely to repeat itself if it is forgotten and left in the past.


Perry, Katy. “Is History Repeating Itself?” YouTube, uploaded by Don’t Normalize Hate, 11 January 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBsImjKVof4.

This video left me s p e e c h l e s s. Haru, an old American lady of Japanese heritage, begins by recounting her story of prejudice, hate and survival. She narrates how her family was put on a registry and enslaved in an internment camp where they were forced to stay for four years. At the end, Haru turns into a Muslim lady who states “Don’t let history repeat itself” because putting Muslims on a registry in America is the first step in repeating history. This is helpful for my article because I can compare the current North American Muslims refugee crisis to Haru’s story instead of the blandly obvious Holocaust example.


“What does it mean to be Muslim? There are 1.7 billion answers.” YouTube, uploaded by Vox, 21 November 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b-Dzm1QgQck.

In this video, several Muslim men and women recount the weirdest things they have ever been asked. My favourite: “are you planning to blow anything up?” I found this video interesting because it illustrates how ignorant society is. Also, it relates to my topic because we may know so little about a culture, however we are so quick to judge and marginalize.


Academic sources


Omoluabi, P. F. “Psychological Foundation of Xenophobia.” IFE Psychologia, 02 May 2011, pp. 55-73. EBSCOhost.

This source portrays xenophobia as a multidisciplinary concept. It focuses on the characteristics of xenophobia as well as its causes and effects. I find this article interesting because the author refers to the broad and overused term ‘xenophobia’ as ‘stranger anxiety’ and other unique terms. This source will enhance my article because, contrary to popular belief, it suggests that xenophobic tendencies can be prevented. I can include some information from this source in my article when I speak about social change and social action – how do we go beyond complaining and make a difference?


Tonelson, Alan. “America First – Past and Present.” Society, vol. 29, no. 6, Sep/Oct 1992, pp. 15-17. EBSCOhost.

This article deals with America’s first advance to foreign policy. It is a source of great insight into the American nation and it can be interesting to use in my feature article because it deals with xenophobia, nativism and racism. The American foreign policy demonstrates the American hope that the modern world’s problems be left alone. “At worst it shows selfishness and a failure to accept historic responsibilities” (Tonelson).


Burke, Sara. “What an Era of Global Protests Says about the Effectiveness of Human Rights as a Language to Achieve Social Change.” Sur: International Journal on Human Rights, vol. 11, no. 20, Jun-Dec 2014, pp. 26-33. EBSCOhost.

This article addresses the idea of protests and how it relates to social change. It can be a useful addition to my feature article because I will be discussing the effectiveness and purpose of protests. Do protests actually bring about change? Or do they only cause more chaos? Also, this article is helpful because it states the motivators of social unrest and the importance they hold for protests and protesters.


Volpp, Leti. “The Citizen and the Terrorist.” UCLA Law Review, vol. 49, June 2002, pp. 1575-1600. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=313859.

This article tries to understand the emergence of violence, specifically in the United States, in the perspective of national tragedy. “This Article suggests that September 11 facilitated the consolidation of a new identity category that groups together persons who appear “Middle Eastern, Arab, or Muslim.” This consolidation reflects a racialization wherein members of this group are identified as terrorists and dis-identified as citizens” (Volpp). This source can enrich my article especially when I speak about the ‘Muslim/Arab terrorist’ stereotype. This article greatly examines the idea of racial profiling and the connection between citizenship, nation and identity and how it may play with one’s ego and incite fear.


Vinitzky-Seroussi,Vered and Chana Teeger. “Unpacking the Unspoken: Silence in Collective Memory and Forgetting.” Social Forces, vol. 88, no. 3, 2010, pp. 1103-1122. EBSCOhost.

This article suggests that the examination of a group’s collective silence leads to the understanding of how they deal with their collective past. In fact, silence may be used to enhance either memory or forgetting. If silence enhances memory, why do humans repeat xenophobic tendencies of the past? However, if silence perpetuates forgetting, then it makes sense as to why humans engage in the same rhetoric of the past.



One thought on “Textual Research

  1. Looks great! I like how you’re looking at broader topics of fear, xenophonia, the unknown, etc. This will add depth and perspective to your piece. Good stuff.


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