Introduction: Language aggression in public debates on immigration

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In Europe and the US, xenophobic discourses against immigrants have been elaborated by populist movements, with far-reaching effects on election campaigns, on referenda and on the relationship of the public with governing elites, not least through the use of social media. Such discourses have been linked with claims of ‘regained’ national, cultural or ethnic identity and ‘liberation’ on the part of the anti-immigration ‘we-group’ that have fostered demands, and sometimes near-triumphalist assertions of ‘taking’ one’s (own) country ‘back’ from an unspecified alien occupier. The immigrant is thus seen as an aggressor who threatens to take away one’s identity, and in a kind of ‘identification with the aggressor’ by proxy, the projected national Self feels entitled to defend and reconstitute itself through asserting its own supremacy, wholeness and faultlessness. Conversely, it feels entitled to deny such qualities to immigrants (or also to further ‘Others’, such as current or historical ‘enemy’ collectives who are implicated in dealing with migration) and to demonize them.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-177
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Language Aggression and Conflict
Issue number2
Early online date23 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - 8 Dec 2017


  • Discourse Analysis
  • Stigmatization
  • Racism

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