Public Lecture: Prof. Kwame Anthony Appiah (NYU), Political Identity


Mi, 26. Juni 2024 - 12:00 bis 13:30 Uhr


Aula II, Hauptgebäude University of Cologne Albertus Magnus Platz 50923 Köln

The English Department I, the GSSC, and stimmen afrikas are looking forward to welcoming you at the public lecture of Prof. Kwame Anthony Appiah!

Prof. Kwame Anthony Appiah, NYU, ( is a philosopher who specializes in Black Studies and ethics and who often works in interdisciplinary contexts. His work is easily understandable and thus accessible to students without prior philosophical knowledge.

A most notable publication for students and scholars of American literature is his collaboration with Henry Louis Gates Jr., with whom he published the Encyclopedia Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African-American Experience. Another significant achievement of Appiah's is his 1993 book In My Father's House, in which he addresses the scientific racism ("race theory" / "racial science") of the nineteenth century and its extending impact as he witnessed it in the 1990s.

The reason for his invitation to Cologne is based on Appiah's latest book publication, Rethinking Identity: The Lies that Bind. In this book, Appiah examines the contemporary concept of identity from an intersectional perspective of "creed, country, colour, class, culture," as he states in his subtitle. Although not part of this list, the categories of sex/gender and sexuality form an important constant in his analysis, as he considers gender to be the most fundamental of all categories of power in many cultures. Appiah's approach in Rethinking Identity is philosophical, but perhaps even more importantly, he always approaches the topic of identity biographically: he is the son of an English mother and a Ghanaian (Asante) father; he grew up in Ghana and England, has lived in the USA for a long time, and works prominently within African American Studies. As he writes himself, his identity is often unreadable to others, as his appearance, accent, and cultural involvements (his cosmopolitanism) surprise others, as if such an identity were (still) unthinkable. Appiah takes his own lived reality and the stories that shape his identity, along with the biographies of others, and abstracts them in a philosophical manner, thus strengthening and complicating the biographical and social components that make up identities. This strategy allows him to capture identity as a tension between prescribed normativity and individual freedom.

His lecture at the University Cologne is entitled “Political Identity,” and he will address the role that identities play in the political life of contemporary democracies.

stimmen afrikas will provide a book table.

We thank our sponsors, the Diversity-Projekt Fonds (UzK), the AmerikaHaus NRW e.V., the Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies (BCDSS), and the VUB Brussels for the collaboration.

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