Elif Shafak Meets Yascha Mounk, 10 Oct 2023

Yascha stands against a dark background looking into the camera, wearing a coat and black t-shirt.

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How should we fight against the oppression of ethnic, sexual, and religious minorities? In the struggle towards equality, could the good intentions of activists backfire?

Renowned and respected by leaders in his native Germany, the US, and the UK alike, an expert on the rise of populism and the global crisis of liberal democracy, Yascha Mounk is one of the major political thinkers of our time.

Elif Shafak is an award-winning literary novelist and political activist whose works include The Island of Missing Trees, the Booker shortlisted 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World, and The Bastard of Istanbul, a novel addressing the Armenian genocide for which she was put on trial, and exonerated, for ‘insulting Turkishness’.

Now Yascha and Elif join us to investigate the rise of identity politics. Many who passionately believe in social justice have come to believe that members of marginalised groups need to take pride in their identity if they are to resist injustice. But for Yascha Mounk, seeking to put each citizen’s matrix identities at the heart of social, cultural and political life will not lead to liberation. It is a trap.

In conversation with Elif, Yascha will trace the origin of these ideas and explore how they have won tremendous power in the past decade, based on the findings from his new book The Identity Trap. He will provide a nuanced critique and make a passionate plea for universalism and humanism, arguing that in their current form, identitarian ideas set back the road to genuine equality.

Presented in partnership with How to Academy and Penguin.

Copies of Yascha's new book can be purchased with tickets to the live event and there will be a post-show book signing.

Photography by Steffen Jaenicke

Access information

The venue is wheelchair accessible.

Please contact: if you have access requirements.

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