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Book Forum on Ivan Kalmar's White but Not Quite: Central Europe's Illiberal Revolt


This book forum discusses Ivan Kalmar´s pivotal book on the position of “Central Europe” in the racialized hierarchies of “West”/“Europe” and their not-quite-white Others. The authors debate the main contributions and potential blind spots of the book and its key concepts. The concepts of racism and whiteness answer the not-so-new question on Central Europe and Europe's “East” anew: How come that the populations of and in this diverse region happen to repeatedly find themselves in the very same marginal position in European historical orders? This question has very contemporary manifestations; Europe's persistent East-West socio-economic and socio-cultural hierarchies, among others, co-produce the local populations' marginalized or marginalizing positioning vis-à-vis each other and the rest of Europe or the world. In this honest discussion, the authors chart new intellectual pathways for utilizing racism and whiteness to help us better understand this question and its many manifestations from within and outside the region.


whiteness, racism, inequality, Central Europe, illiberalism, Europeanness, capitalism

Book Forum (PDF)

Author Biography

Ivan Kalmar

Ivan Kalmar’s research has addressed a wide range of topics ranging from Inuit language and the mythology of the computer, to the image of Muslims and Jews in western Christian cultural history. He continues to be keenly interested in how Islamophobic and illiberal notions are generated and spread online. Currently his research focuses on illiberalism in Europe, with a focus on relations between the post-communist members of the European Union and the rest (including between the East and the West in Germany). Prof. Kalmar has co-edited Orientalism and the Jews (University Press of New England, 2005) and published Early Orientalism: Imagined Islam and the Notion of Sublime Power (Routledge, 2012). His latest book is White But Not Quite: Central Europe’s Populist Revolt (University of Bristol Press, 2022). Prof. Kalmar’s articles appear as book chapters and journal articles in publications dealing with the topics of race and religion, Jews and Muslims, language and nationalism, and others. He has edited a special issue of Patterns of Prejudice on Islamophobia in the East of the European Union and, together with Nitzan Shoshan, a special issue of The Journal of Contemporary European Studies called Islamophobia in Germany: East/West. Currently he is co-editing a proposed special issue on race and racialization in the East of the European Union, with Aleksandra Lewicki.

Aliaksei Kazharski

Aliaksei Kazharski received his PhD from Comenius University in Bratislava (Slovakia) in 2015. He has been a guest researcher at the University of Oslo (Norway), the University of Tartu (Estonia), the Institute for Human Sciences (IWM) in Vienna (Austria), the University of Vienna (Austria), the Polish Academy of Sciences, Malmö University (Sweden), and Uppsala University (Sweden). His main areas of research have been Central and Eastern Europe, regionalism, and identity in international relations. He is the author of two books: Eurasian Integration and the Russian World. Regionalism as an Identitary Enterprise (CEUPress, 2019) and Central Europe Thirty Years after the Fall of Communism. A Return to the Margin? (Rowman & Littlefield, 2022, winner of the International Studies Association, Global International Relations Section 2022-2023 Book Award).

Daria Krivonos

Daria Krivonos is a sociologist and a postdoctoral researcher at the Centre of Excellence in Law, Identity and the European Narratives, the University of Helsinki. Her research explores post-Soviet migration at the intersection of racialisation, labour, whiteness, class and gender. Her current research project examines young Ukrainian migrant labour and precarity in the context of the Polish service economy. She also leads a project entitled “Life-breaking and Life-making: A research project on social reproduction and survival in times of collapse” funded by Kone Foundation (LIFEMAKE, 2023-2026).

Stephanie Rudwick

Stephanie Rudwick is a linguistic anthropologist who lectures in African Studies at the University of Hradec Králové and she is also a researcher at the Ethnology Institute of the Czech Academy of Science. Stephanie received awards from the German and the South African research foundations and currently leads a project examining African Diaspora dynamics in the Czech Republic funded by the Czech Research Council. Her primary focus are ethnic, racial and linguistic identity politics and she has published widely on these issues.

Gábor Scheiring

Gábor Scheiring is an Assistant Professor at Georgetown University Qatar. He researches the lived experience and political economy of capitalist transformations. His book, The Retreat of Liberal Democracy (Palgrave, 2020), winner of the BASEES 2021 Book Award, shows how working-class dislocation and business elite co-optation enable illiberalism in Hungary. His studies on economic shocks and welfare examine how rapid economic change increases mental and physical suffering, eroding the legitimacy of the liberal world order. His work has appeared in leading journals such as The Lancet Global Health, Theory and Society, Cambridge Journal of Economics, and the Annual Review of Sociology.