Snow White and the Social Construction of Purity


Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


In the last decade, with the collapse of the Iron Curtain, the breakup of the Soviet Union, and the end of the Cold War, one might have expected an era of peace and tranquility. Yet, from Rwanda to Bosnia, from Kosovo to Kashmir, from Chechnya to East Timor, we have seen an epidemic of rampant and unmediated intolerance. While efforts toward understanding, whether in Israel with its Arab neighbors, or in Ireland between Irish and Catholic compatriots, have made some progress, this past decade has seen a breakout of a very virulent and contagious form of ethnic prejudice. There is much to deplore in the behavior of the Serbs, but they are hardly the only bigots left in the world . More than ever, we need to understand, better than we do at present, the roots of prejudice. It is not enough to dismiss prejudice for the evil that it is: one must inquire into its origin so that one can, eventually, minimize their effect. And what underlies prejudice is a certain logic of self-preservation based on several pseudo - assumptions fueled by the engine of fear. To eliminate prejudice, one must dispel those misconceptions that underlie behavior, and eliminate the fear that causes apprehension and generates misapprehension. In my view, some of these misapprehensions stem from the pseudo assumptions that surround the notion of purity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-33
JournalComparative Literature East & West
Publication statusPublished - 2000


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