Anti-Refugee Sentiment without Refugees

In the article, the authors pose a question: to what extent can we speak of social work practice in support of refugees in post-socialist Southeastern Europe given that in the region, which was part of the Balkans Humanitarian Corridor in 2015 and 2016, state-supported social work practice is very limited and very prescriptive at the same time? The vocal anti-refugee sentiment in Central and Southeastern Europe that accompanied the migrants can be said to stem from the nineteenth-century primordialism: the one-state, one-nation ideology that also was embedded in the very construction of post-socialist states after 1991. Consequently, refugees are seen as the ultimate danger to everything “ours”, to women, men, and children of purportedly pure-blooded ethnonational origin, threatening “our” transgenerational sense of cultural and pseudobiological homogeneity. The rising post-socialist ethnonational primordialism, intertwined with conservative neopatriarchal ideologies, directly affects human rights observance and social work education and practice. The predominantly government-funded social workers generally are neither trained nor encouraged to work with refugees, while the popular and party politics of hatred is directed toward those who support refugees, social workers included. Anti-refugee sentiment, culturalization, and neopatriarchy are rationalized with arguments of fear and care; protecting the cultural and biological homogeneity of native residents leads to processes that turn care into violence, and ultimately into coercive care.

Read full article by Darja Zavirsek and Barbara Rajgelj

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