White But Not Quite

Central Europe’s Illiberal Revolt


The response to neoliberal globalisation in Central Europe has led to populism arising from its brutal transition to capitalism. Kalmar uses examples from popular culture to sport to reject as racist the idea that Central Europe’s cultures are incompatible with liberal democracy.

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Since the ‘migration crisis’ of 2016, long-simmering tensions between the Western members of the European Union and its ‘new’ Eastern members – Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary – have proven to be fertile ground for rebellion against liberal values and policies.

In this startling and original book Ivan Kalmar argues that Central Europe illiberalism is a misguided response to the devastating effects of global neoliberalism which arose from the area’s brutal transition to capitalism in the 1990s.

Kalmar argues that dismissive attitudes towards ‘Eastern Europeans’ in the EU as incapable of real democracy are a form of racism, and connected to recent racist attacks on migrants from the area to the West.

He explores the close relation between racism towards Central Europeans and racism by Central Europeans: a people white, but not quite.

Ivan Kalmar is a Professor in the Department of Anthropology and the Centre for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, at the University of Toronto. He has written widely on race, religion, and politics, including in Central Europe.

Author/Editor details at time of book publication.