by Kaileigh La Belle
In doing this week’s readings, I was struck by Cento Bull’s reading on populism and popular memory. In particular, her argument is that the other is consistently used to construct a populist national image. I think that this argument can be applied to other readings from this week. Namely, Molnar’s article on the role of racial anxiety in reunified Germany. Throughout the article, Molnar highlights narratives from reunified Germany in which German citizens suggest that immigration would threaten their country. As such, through this construction of the other, they attempt to call back to a mythic, historic image of Germany, one that is predominately white and Christian.
The Cento Bull reading also encouraged me to consider why narratives of the other are so successful in creating both an imagined past and an imagined community around which people can rally. Personally, looking at cases such as those discussed in Molnar’s article, I feel that the ‘other’ is often conceptually distanced, but also physically distanced. For example, in his introduction, Molnar highlights a racist letter against immigration written by a man called Lange. In this letter, Lange uses examples of other ethnically mixed countries, namely in Africa, South America, and Eastern Europe, and suggests that this would be Germany’s fate. The physical distance between these countries would enable people to demonize the situation and present a myth as fact as there becomes greater space for disinformation.
In conclusion, I felt that Cento Bull raised some interesting points about the role of the other in populist myth-making, which I feel carries over to other readings from this week. In considering this subject more critically, I found myself faced with continued questions as to how these processes occur and what makes them so successful in such varied situations.