Kenan Malik & Hans Kundnani: Racism and Anti-Racism
What does it mean to be anti-racist in contemporary times? Is racism largely a function of whiteness, and can anti-racism build itself around multiculturalism, cosmopolitanism and identity politics? How can a historical perspective illuminate our understanding of both racism and the struggle against it – and is ‘Europe’ part of the problem or solution?
Folkestone Book Festival is our annual celebration of books, ideas, reading and writing in its many magical forms. This year’s festival has been curated by Jen Thatcher and James Harkin. Curating the festival for the first time, Jen and James have been inspired by Folkestone and how we can all come together through inspired discussion about global ideas, global thinking and possible futures.
About the books
An alternative account of the EU as a racialised project.
The European Union is often seen as a cosmopolitan rejection of violent nationalism. Yet the idea of Europe has a long, problematic history—in medieval times, it was synonymous with Christianity; in the modern era, it became associated with ‘whiteness’.
Eurowhiteness exposes the EU as a vehicle for imperial amnesia. Narratives of European integration emphasise the lessons of war and the Holocaust, but not the lessons of colonial history. The EU is about power as much as peace—and civic ideas of Europe are beingdisplaced by ethnic and cultural ones.
Since the 2015 refugee crisis, whiteness has become even more central to European identity—a troubling new turn in Europe’s long civilisational project. It is time to confront the relationship between ideas of Europe and ideas of race.
A powerful new history of the idea of race, forcing us to rethink today’s culture wars.
Is white privilege real? How racist is the working class? Why has left-wing antisemitism grown? Who benefits most when anti-racists speak in racial terms?
The ‘culture wars’ have generated ferocious argument, but little clarity. This book takes the long view, explaining the real origins of ‘race’ in Western thought, and tracing its path from those beginnings in the Enlightenment all the way to our own fractious world. In doing so, leading thinker Kenan Malik upends many assumptions underpinning today’s heated debates around race, culture, whiteness and privilege.
Malik interweaves this history of ideas with a parallel narrative: the story of the modern West’s long, failed struggle to escape ideas of race, leaving us with a world riven by identity politics. Through these accounts, he challenges received wisdom, revealing the forgotten history of a racialised working class, and questioning fashionable concepts like cultural appropriation.
Not So Black and White is both a lucid history rewriting the story of race, and an elegant polemic making an anti-racist case against the politics of identity.
About the speakers
Hans Kundnani is an associate fellow and former Europe programme director at Chatham House, and the author of Utopia or Auschwitz; The Paradox of German Power; and Eurowhiteness, all published by Hurst. Hans writes regularly for The Observer, The Guardian, The New Statesman and Foreign Affairs, among others.
Kenan Malik is a writer, lecturer, broadcaster and Observer columnist. A former Moral Maze panellist, he has presented BBC Radio 3’s Nightwaves and Radio 4’s Analysis. His previous books include The Quest for a Moral Compass, and From Fatwa to Jihad, which was shortlisted for the Orwell Prize.RSVP