Not So Black and White w/ Kenan Malik

29 Nov 2023 – 12:20 – 13:30 GMT
Imperial College London
Lecture Theatre G16
Sir Alexander Fleming Building
South Kensington Campus
Imperial College Road
London SW7 2AZ

We are delighted to announce that Kenan Malik, writer, lecturer and broadcaster will be discussing his latest book Not So Black and White on Wednesday 29 November at Imperial College’s South Kensington Campus.

In this book he challenges the conventional histories both of the idea of race and of the struggles to confront racism. In retelling the histories of racial ideas and of the changing character of antiracist and anticolonial movements, he provides also an account of how we created a world riven by identity politics. He challenges longstanding assumptions, revealing forgotten stories of a racialised working class, and questioning concepts such as “white privilege”.

Kenan Malik’s books include The Meaning of Race (1996), Man, Beast and Zombie: what Science Can and Cannot Tell Us About Human Nature (2000) and Strange Fruit: Why Both Sides Are Wrong in the Race Debate (2008), From Fatwa to Jihad: How the World Changed from The Satanic Verses to Charlie Hebdo (2009/2017) and The Quest for a Moral Compass: A Global History of Ethics (2014).

The Conference is organised by the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Centre.

About the book

Not So Black and White: A History of Race from White Supremacy to Identity Politics by Kenan Malik

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 author

Kenan Malik is a writer, lecturer, broadcaster and Observer columnist. A former Moral Maze panellisthe 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.

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