Jump to content


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Xenophilia or xenophily is the love for, attraction to, or appreciation of foreign people, manners, customs, or cultures.[1] It is the antonym of xenophobia or xenophoby. The word is a modern coinage from the Greek "xenos" (ξένος) (stranger, unknown, foreign) and "philia" (φιλία) (love, attraction), though the word itself is not found in classical Greek.[2]

In biology[edit]

In biology xenophily includes, for example, the acceptance by an insect of an introduced foreign plant closely related to the normal host. Xenophily is distinguished from xenophagy (or allotrophy), and is less common than xenophoby.[3] Early 20th-century entomologists incorrectly concluded that the evolution of the glandular terminal disk was a function of xenophily, following its discovery in myrmecophilous larvae.[4]

In culture[edit]

Cultural appreciation refers to attraction or admiration towards one or more cultures which are not one's own. Individual examples are usually suffixed with -philia, from the Ancient Greek word philia (φιλία), "love, affection". Cultural xenophilia according to some sources can be connected with cultural cringe.[5] It may also be area-specific, such as led the Romans to believe that Greeks were better than Romans at music, art and philosophy, but evidently not better at military matters.[6] In the book and movie series Harry Potter, an extravagant character is named Xenophilius Lovegood.

In politics and history[edit]

George Washington, in his 1796 Farewell Address, described having allegiance to more than one nation as negative:

So likewise, a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification. It leads also to concessions to the favorite nation of privileges denied to others which is apt doubly to injure the nation making the concessions; by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained, and by exciting jealousy, ill-will, and a disposition to retaliate, in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld. And it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens (who devote themselves to the favorite nation), facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with popularity; gilding, with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation.

As avenues to foreign influence in innumerable ways, such attachments are particularly alarming to the truly enlightened and independent patriot. How many opportunities do they afford to tamper with domestic factions, to practice the arts of seduction, to mislead public opinion, to influence or awe the public councils. Such an attachment of a small or weak towards a great and powerful nation dooms the former to be the satellite of the latter.[7]

In Religion[edit]

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, the English Orthodox Chief Rabbi, philosopher, theologian, and author, posited that xenophilia is deeply ingrained and central to Judaism. He invokes the biblical injunction: “When a stranger comes to live in your land, do not mistreat him. Treat the stranger the way you treat your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were strangers in Egypt. I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 19:33-34). Sacks writes:

Most people in most societies in most ages have feared, hated and often harmed the stranger. There is a word for this: xenophobia. How often have you heard the opposite word: xenophilia? My guess is, never. People don’t usually love strangers. That is why, almost always when the Torah states this command – which it does, according to the Sages, 36 times – it adds an explanation: “because you were strangers in Egypt.” I know of no other nation that was born as a nation in slavery and exile. We know what it feels like to be a vulnerable minority. That is why love of the stranger is so central to Judaism and so marginal to most other systems of ethics. But here too, the Torah does not use the word “justice.” There is a command of justice toward strangers, but that is a different law: “You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him” (Ex. 22:20). Here the Torah speaks not of justice but of love.

These two commands define Judaism as a religion of love – not just of God (“with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might”), but of humanity also. That was and is a world-changing idea.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Flusty, Steven (2004). De-Coca-colonization: Making the Globe from the Inside Out. New York, London: Routledge. p. 208. ISBN 9780415945387.
  2. ^ Henry Liddell, Robert Scott, Henry Jones, and Roderick McKenzie. A Greek-English Lexicon. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996. pp. 1189, 1939.
  3. ^ Pierre Jolivet Insects and plants: parallel evolution and adaptations (1986), p. 33: "(b) Examples of Xenophily. Conversely, xenophily is the acceptance by an insect of an introduced foreign plant closely related to the normal host. Xenophily, very different from xenophagy (allotrophy), is less common than xeno-phoby.
  4. ^ Tropical zoology (2001), vol. 14, p. 169, Centro di studio per la faunistica ed ecologia tropicali, Consiglio nazionale delle ricerche (Italy). "Earlier authors believed that the evolution of the glandular terminal disk was related to xenophily, probably because of its discovery in myrmecophilous larvae (Boving 1907; Brauns 1914"
  5. ^ Burke, Peter (2005). History And Social Theory. Polity. p. 85.
  6. ^ John Gray Landels Music in ancient Greece and Rome (1999), p. 199: "... it was a kind of xenophilia, which led Romans to believe that foreigners (especially Greeks) were 'better at that sort of thing than we are'."
  7. ^ Wikisource:Washington's Farewell Address
  8. ^ "Love Is Not Enough | Acharei Mot | Covenant & Conversation | The Rabbi Sacks Legacy". 2018-04-17. Retrieved 2024-05-13.