Ambivalent Enmity: Making the Case for a Transcultural Turn in Enmity Studies


  • Johannes Becke (Author)
  • Nikolas Jaspert (Author)
  • Joachim Kurtz (Author)


The introduction to this theme issue makes the case for a transcultural turn in enmity
studies. In view of the increase in conflict and polarization in both international and
domestic politics, the phenomenon of enmity needs to be studied from a fresh
perspective that fully recognizes its transcultural, processual, and deeply ambivalent
features. To sketch such an approach, we introduce and defend five hypotheses: (i)
enmity is a driver of transculturation, not an obstacle; (ii) enmity describes a process,
not an outcome; (iii) enmity is an expression of ambivalence, not of conclusiveness;
(iv) the study of enmity requires a transdisciplinary approach; and (v) the study of
enmity needs historical depth. Case studies based on this perspective must integrate
concepts and methodological insights from the humanities and social sciences, and
highlight the persistent links between enmity, understood as enduring forms of
potentially violent antagonism, and ambivalence, defined as contradictory patterns of
emotions, values, and cultural habits. Without a deeper understanding of the
ambivalences of enmity, this theme issue argues, it is impossible to capture the
dynamics of antagonism, past and present.


How to Cite
Becke, J., Jaspert, N., & Kurtz, J. (2024). Ambivalent Enmity: Making the Case for a Transcultural Turn in Enmity Studies: Introduction. The Journal of Transcultural Studies, 14(1-2), 1–26.