It is hard not to be depressed about the news over the last couple of weeks. I am writing from South Africa where I am visiting some colleagues at the University of Cape Town. Last month the media was dominated by the xenophobic violence that has resulted in the deaths of seven people and the injury of many more. Hundreds of foreign-owned shops and businesses have been destroyed, and thousands of people have been displaced. It is unclear exactly what triggered this first wave of attacks on people from other African states, which spread from Durban to the country’s economic capital, Johannesburg.