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World-Renowned Philosopher, Cultural Theorist, and Novelist to Give Virtual Talk for Hall Center’s Summer Speaker Series

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Exciting, erudite, and yet accessible, acclaimed public intellectual Kwame Anthony Appiah challenges us to look beyond the boundaries - real and imagined - that divide us, and to celebrate our common humanity. Named one of Foreign Policy’s Top 100 public intellectuals, one of the Carnegie Corporation’s “Great Immigrants,” and awarded a National Humanities Medal by The White House, Appiah is currently a Professor of Philosophy and Law at New York University. He has taught at Princeton University, Harvard University, Yale University, Cornell University, Duke University, and the University of Ghana. 

Originally scheduled to speak in March as part of the 2019-2020 Hall Center for the Humanities Lecture Series (postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic), Professor Appiah’s upcoming talk, The Lies That Bind, will take place on July 14, 2020, at 7:30 PM, presented via Zoom Webinar at this link: https://kansas.zoom.us/j/97620027854 with Password: 793554.

Kwame Anthony Appiah’s most recent book, The Lies That Bind: Rethinking Identity (2018), is a brilliant and provocative exploration of the identities that define us – their histories, contradictions, and falsehoods. Appiah challenges our assumptions about how identities are created and how they work. These “mistaken identities,” Appiah explains, can fuel some of our worst atrocities―from chattel slavery to genocide. And yet they can usher in moral progress and bring significance to our lives by connecting the small scale of our daily existence with larger movements, causes, and concerns.

Elaborating a bold new theory of identity, The Lies That Bind is a ringing philosophical statement for the anxious, conflict-ridden twenty-first century. A Kirkus Review says that Appiah demonstrates “a penetrating grasp of the complexities of identity, wielding history like a scalpel, extracting the cancerous myths, poisonous prejudices, and foolish antagonisms that divide us.” The Lies That Bind builds on Appiah’s previous work, including Cosmopolitanism (2006) and the BBC Reith Lecture series Mistaken Identities (2016). 

Appiah was born in London to a Ghanaian father and a British mother. Raised in Ghana and educated in England, he received a PhD in philosophy from Cambridge University in 1982. As a scholar of African and African-American studies, he quickly established himself as an intellectual with broad reach. His research and teaching interests include intellectual history, literary studies, the philosophy of language and mind, ethics, and political theory; he also teaches regularly about African traditional religions. 

Professor Appiah is the author of numerous books and considers readers’ ethical quandaries in a weekly column as “The Ethicist” for The New York Times Magazine. He is currently working on two large projects: one exploring some of the many ways in which we now think about religion, and another examining the ethical and political consequences of the changing nature of work.

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