Race, Culture and Identity w/ Kenan Malik & Tomiwa Owolade

3 Sep 2023 – 13:00 BST
Queen's Park Book Festival
Walter MacFarlane Stage
Queen's Park

Join Kenan Malik and Tomiwa Owolade as they discuss and challenge our understanding of race in Britain today.

The past few years have seen issues of race, culture and identity brought to the centre-ground of political and social debate. As these ideas remain contested, two writers have made subtle and compelling cases for a reassessment of the many assumptions that govern these discussions.

Tomiwa Owolade’s new book This is Not America provides a humane, empirical and passionate argument for a new and bold framework for understanding race in Britain today. In Not So Black and White, Kenan Malik approaches the issues with a long view of race, upending many assumptions that underpin today’s heated debated around race and culture.

They will discuss their new work with festival director Thomas du Plessis.

About Not So Black and White

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?

Not So Black and White

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

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.

Tomiwa Owolade writes about social, cultural and literary issues for the New Statesman, The Times, the Sunday Times, the Observer, UnHerd and the Evening Standard. He has appeared on BBC Radio 4 and Times Radio discussing some of the ideas in this book. He won top prize at the RSL Giles St Aubyn Awards 2021.


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