The Story of Race: White Supremacy to Identity Politics w/ Kenan Malik

7 Feb 2023 – 19:30 - 21:30 GMT
Gulbenkian Arts Centre
University of Kent

Join leading thinker Kenan Malik as he discusses his new book Not so Black and White.

In doing so, he throws new light on today’s culture wars. Discussing his new book Not so Black and White, Malik asks: Is white privilege real? What’s wrong with identity politics? And why is it that the more we despise racial thinking, the more we seem to cling to racial identities?

About the book

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.

Sponsored by the Centre for Global Study of Empire & School of English.

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