On Identity: A Conversation with Kwame Anthony Appiah

If you lose your ego, you lose the thread of that narrative you call your Self,” wrote Haruki Murakami in his book Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche “…humans, however, can’t live very long without some sense of a continuing story. Such stories go beyond the limited rational system (or the systematic rationality) with which you surround yourself; they are crucial keys to sharing time-experience with others…” In a hyperconnected world, our identities matter more than ever – they become empowering, weaponised, sanctuary and danger simultaneously and it’s perhaps because of this, that we must now understand identity more than ever before. In this exclusive interview, I spoke to Professor Kwame Anthony Appiah, author of The Lies That Bind: Rethinking Identity and Professor of Philosophy and Law at New York University. We discuss the nature of identity, the labels we place on each other, and how best to  understand their significance and role in society.

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Learning from the Holocaust

In one of the darkest moments of modern civilisation, over six million Jews were killed by Nazi Germany in a state-sponsored genocide.  This event (The Holocaust) killed over two-thirds of Europe’s entire Jewish population. It took decades for the Jewish people and the rest of the world to make-sense of what happened during World War II, and for most of us- it is impossible to imagine how the very few survivors of such atrocities could rebuild their lives, but some did; and those individuals have gone-on to become ambassadors of hope, of peace, and of reconciliation at a time where it would appear our world has not just forgotten the past, but is doomed to repeat it.  I had the privilege of speaking to three Holocaust survivors who have gone-on to become humanitarians, peace-activists and educators. Walter Ziffer (author of ‘Confronting the Silence, A Holocaust Survivor’s Search for God’), Iby Knill (author of ‘Woman Without a Number’) and Eva Schloss MBE (author of ‘Eva’s Story: A Survivor’s Tale by the Stepsister of Anne Frank’).

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Cyberhate & The Rise of the Trolls

To learn more about the phenomenon of cyberhate and the reality of trolling I spoke to David Baddiel (comedian, author, screenwriter & presenter), Ginger Gorman (journalist and author of Troll Hunting: Inside the world of online hate and its human fallout) and Hussein Kesvani (journalist and author of Follow Me, Akhi: The Online World of British Muslims)

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Racism

In this article we talk to Frank Willem (FW) de Klerk (Former President of South Africa and Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize), George Takei (Actor & Social Justice Activist), Prof. Githu Muigai (Attorney General of Kenya), Patrisse Cullors (Co-Founder of Black Lives Matter), Dr. Nils Muiznieks (the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights), Nikesh Shukla (Author), Lord Herman Ouseley (Founder of ‘Kick it Out’) and Iby Knill (Holocaust Survivor).  We discuss the impact of racism, discrimination and intolerance on our society, and how we can build a better future for our world.

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My Experiences of Being Brown: The Realities of Race and Racism in the U.K.

For the first time in over 20 years, I feel brown… I find myself being extra careful in terms of how I dress, where I go, how I speak, what I carry and how I behave; not to conform to any new social norms- but rather, so that people don’t mistake me for a terrorist, or make assumptions about my intentions. I am not the only brown person I know who has a ‘pre-flight shave’ at airports, nor the only one I know who is acutely aware of themselves on public transport.

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