#rp24 speaker Mithu M. Sanyal: About identity and politics

18.03.2024 - The author and cultural scientist discusses post-colonialism and identity politics with us at #rp24 - and how the far right instrumentalises these terms.
Mithu trägt lange dunkle Haare und ein rotes Tuch um den Oberkörper.
Photo Credit
Carolin Windel

Whether post-colonialism or gender studies – the (new) right intentionally discredits movements or disciplines that question power relations and stand up for a fairer society. The mechanisms and results are often similar: processes of change are repeatedly slowed down and contained. Of course, we are living in a time of uncertainty and transformation. But are hard-won freedoms and progressive developments always followed by a backlash?

If we are to believe some angry voices, the central problem of our time is not the climate, energy or care crisis, but identity politics. This means that people perceive themselves as a group, stand up for their own recognition and want to be heard. This often involves questions such as: Who can say what? Who has the right to talk about what? This quickly leads to accusations of "cancel culture", which is particularly powerful in the reactionary culture war – as is the narrative of an alleged "woke agenda".

At re:publica 24, Mithu M. Sanyal will talk about how the term "identity politics" has become an ideological battleground. The discussion will focus on what it does to our society when discourse becomes increasingly poisoned and positions harden. After all, these debates also touch the core of our coexistence.

Mithu is a writer, cultural scientist and journalist. She writes for Deutschlandfunk, SWR, Der Spiegel, The Guardian, BBC, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Frankfurter Rundschau, DIE ZEIT, taz and Missy Magazine, among others. She writes radio plays and features for WDR.

In 2009, her non-fiction book "Vulva. Die Enthüllung des unsichtbaren Geschlechts"; 2016 "Vergewaltigung. Aspekte eines Verbrechens.” (Rape. Aspects of a Crime). The English-language edition "Rape" was awarded the "Geisteswissenschaften International" prize in 2017. Both books have been translated into several languages. Her debut novel "Identitti", published in 2021, was awarded the Ernst Bloch Prize and the Ruhr Literature Prize and was shortlisted for the German Book Prize. In 2022, "Mithu Sanyal über Emily Brontë” (Mithu Sanyal on Emily Brontë) was published. Her new novel "Antichristie" will be published in autumn 2024.

At #rp24, we look forward to inspiring discussions on identity politics and post-colonialism with Mithu.