When the Combahee River Collective coined the term identity politics, they meant to capture the idea that we all come to the political arena with affiliations and attachments that leave traces on how we view and experience the world. This does not mean that those attachments define or determine what we think and what we stand for, but it does insist that our embedded and embodied lives cannot be left behind in the process of creating political subjectivities and movements.
The Combahee River Collective developed their political and epistemological critique from lives that are systematically erased, both in politics and the production of knowledge, i.e. the lives of Black lesbian women. More than 40 years later, the term identity politics has come to mean many different things: it often figures in opposition to politics focused on economic power relations in the “class vs. race” debates, it is generally used to dismiss the politics of others as sectarian or communautarian, and more recently it is used to capture the rise of new waves of white nationalist politics as they became visible in electoral politics such as the election of Trump or Brexit. Some have argued that identity politics has come to mean anything and has been willfully misunderstood. In this seminar we explore and disentangle some of these questions together with Dr. Lentin who will present from her most recent work on identity politics, which offers a sharp critique on seeing class- based and identity politics as opposed.
Dr. Alana Lentin is Associate Professor in Cultural and Social Analysis at Western Sydney University. She works on the critical theorization of race, racism and antiracism. She is co-editor of the Rowman and Littlefield International book series, Challenging Migration Studies and the President of the Australian Critical Race & Whiteness Studies Association (2017-2019). In 2017, she was Hans Speier Visiting Professor of Sociology at the New school for Social Research in New York. Her latest books are Racism and Sociology (with Wulf D. Hund 2014) and The Crises of Multiculturalism: Racism in a Neoliberal Age (with Gavan Titley, 2011). Her articles have appeared in Continuum, Information, Communication & Society, Ethnicities, Ethnic and Racial Studies, European Journal of Social Theory, the European Journal of Cultural Studies, and Patterns of Prejudice among others. For further details about her research, teaching and writing, please visit her personal website.
The seminar is organized by Sarah Bracke and Paul Mepschen (Political Sociology), and is made possible by the RaceFaceID project team (ERC Consolidator project) En/Gendering Europe’s Muslim Question (NWO VICI project).
Participation is free but registration is required (email@example.com).
Programme: 12.30 lunch, followed by discussion from 1 till 3pm.