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Speaking of identity

On Monday, 24 June 2024, the VUB has the honour of welcoming world-renowned philosopher Prof. Dr. Kwame Anthony Appiah for an exceptional lecture. Throughout his career, Appiah has countered the ‘Western’ notions of difference and ‘moral superiority’ with a non-exclusive concept of culture that he understands as a participative and convivial process. His lecture will draw on his book, Lies that Bind: Rethinking Identity (2018). In this volume, Appiah explores how identities – nationality, class, culture, race, religion, gender and sexuality – are both at the root of global conflict and are also in turn fostered by conflict. Interweaving philosophical argument with historical narratives, he reveals the tangled contradictions within the stories that appear to define us. Appiah dismantles the modern origin of deep-seated conceptualisations of race, points out the flaws inherent in the notion of the ‘sovereign nation’, and exposes the very idea of ‘Western culture’ as a chimera. 

The lecture will open a new series of VUB-sponsored events, “Ties that Bind Us: Transcultural Perspectives on Social Forms”. The series aims to address the urgent need for advocating the value of an open society equipped to accommodate diversity in a changing world. It seeks to create a platform for a wide range of perspectives, life experiences and cultures of knowledge about forms of kinship, solidarity and conviviality in order to counter an increasingly widespread, yet dangerously reductive binary thinking. “Ties that Bind Us” will hence involve speakers and formats that engage with, or reflect, the complexity and diversity of life experiences (past and present) in their works or art, literature and criticism.

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Prof. dr. Eva Ulrike Pirker (
Prof. dr. Benoît Henriet (


Start: June 24, 2024
4:30 PM
End: June 24, 2024
6:00 PM
Vrije Universiteit Brussel

VUB - Main Campus, Building I, Room: I.203

Pleinlaan 2
1050 Etterbeek

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