Skip to main content

Photo: “W drodze na Wawel“, by Piotr Drabik, licensed under CC BY 2.0, Hue modified from the original.

Kalmar, Ivan. White But Not Quite, (Bristol, UK: Bristol University Press, 2022) accessed Jul 13, 2022,


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.

Table of Contents:

  • Introduction: Race, Illiberalism, Central Europe
  • 1: How Eastern Europeans Became Less White
  • 2: How Central Europeans Became Eastern European
  • 3: How Central Europeans Became Central European (Time and Time Again)
  • 4: Central Europe: Half-Truths and Facts
  • 5: The Last of the White Men: Central Europe’s White Innocence
  • 6: ‘Have Eastern Europeans No Shame?’ Anti-Semitism, Racism, and Homophobia in Central Europe
  • 7: Imitators Spurned: Why the West Needs Central Europe to Stay in its Eastern European Place
  • 8: ‘We Will Not Be a Colony!’
  • 9: Slavia Prague v. Glasgow Rangers: Lessons from a Football Match
  • Conclusion: When the Migrants Come
  • Postscript: Confessions of a Canadian Central European

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.