Identity politics, racism , free speech

La Trobe University’s Ideas and Society series presents: Global ethicist Kenan Malik at Bendigo Writers Festival

“There is a confusion between race and culture that afflicts anti-racists as much as it does racists.” Kenan Malik

In the 20th century, both science and philosophy demolished old-fashioned ideas about race. In an era now dominated by globalised fear of “otherness” - when it’s never been more important to debate openly about nationalism -we are confronted by a strange and dangerous conundrum.

Culture, both right-wing and left-wing commentators argue, has to be “protected”, and that means “defending national identity”.

“The consequences of identity politics and of concepts such as cultural appropriation is to bring about not social justice but the empowerment of those who would act as gatekeepers to particular communities.” Kenan Malik

Kenan Malik, born in India, raised in Manchester, trained in neuroscience and an acclaimed television and radio presenter, is the author of Strange Fruit: Why Both Sides are Wrong in the Race Debate, Man Beast and Zombie: What Science Can and Cannot Tell Us About Human Nature, From Fatwa to Jihad: The Rushdie Affair and its Legacy (updated as How the World Changed, after the Charlie Hebdo attack) and The Quest for a Moral Compass: A Global History of Ethics.

He was involved in far left organisations when he was young, but the Salman Rushdie affair changed his thinking, and set him on a path of challenging both Right and Left.

“The Rushdie affair gave early notice of the abandonment by many sections of the left of their traditional attachment to ideas of Enlightenment rationalism and secular universalism and their growing espousal of multiculturalism, identity politics and notions of cultural authenticity.” Kenan Malik

He is now a brilliant, courageous and inspiring campaigner for free speech, secularism and scientific rationalism.

Kenan Malik is a commentator who shines a light at the end of the noisy, dark and confusing tunnel of contemporary commentary.

Kenan Malik speaks with La Trobe University Vice Chancellor Fellow Tony Walker on Saturday August 12, at Ulumbarra Theatre in Bendigo, on the topic, How the World Changed.

Contact: Rosemary Sorensen, Bendigo Writers Festival,, 0414 910123  or Lauren Mitchell, La Trobe University