Identity Politics

Identity Politics

As a community, how should we navigate the space where identities and political agendas intersect one another?

Monday, December 4, 2017
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

Central Library
251 Dundas St
London, Ontario

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There are a lot of questions we can ask about today’s landscape of ‘identity politics’…

  • Do identity politics cloud or amplify the underlying issues that lead to systemic economic inequality?
  • Does the strategy of identity politics steer us away or towards the goals of equity, equality, or universalism?
  • Is it even possible to practice politics at all without positioning your political participation around your identity?
  • Could defining our political identities by our creeds, cultures, colours, or countries ultimately backfire? Is white nationalism and white supremacy just another form of identity politics?
  • If you base your politics on your identity, is it fair for other people to define your identity by your politics?
  • What if white people have been effectively doing ‘identity politics’ for centuries — but now mobilize the term ‘identity politics’ pejoratively to refer to political actors and agendas that are not white?

The debate around identity politics is, obviously, political. Consider this recent, now infamous, quote:

[T]he longer [the Democrats] talk about identity politics, I got ’em. I want them to talk about racism every day. If the left is focused on race and identity, and we go with economic nationalism, we can crush the Democrats. (Steve Bannon)

Join us for a riveting discussion about the intersection of identity and politics with a great panel of local thinkers and activists.

While the terms identity politics and intersectionality have taken hold of our discourse, the substance of these theories has been left behind. We haven’t taken the intellectual contributions of black women seriously enough to engage them beyond empty sloganeering. And since these concepts have been reduced to catchphrases, everyone has been free to fill in their own meanings. (Mychal Denzel Smith)

The Panel

Wael Haddara (@waelhaddara) is a physician, educator, and sometime political advisor. He is currently the Chair/Chief of Critical Care Medicine and Associate Professor of Medicine at Western University and London Hospitals. Prior to his medical training, he also trained and worked as a pharmacist. His multi professional background coupled with being born and raised in Egypt, has led him to a research path that explores strongly held cultural norms. He is actively engaged in a number of local and national organizations and currently contributes a monthly column to the London Free Press.

Saleha Kahn (@khansalehak) is a community leader and activist. She is also a Specialist in Organizational Development (Workplace Diversity & Inclusion) with the City of London.

Jeff Preston (@jeffpreston) is an assistant professor of Disability Studies at King’s University College at Western University where he teaches classes on disability, popular culture and policy. A long-time advocate and motivational speaker, Jeff’s work focuses on the intersection of disability, subjectivity, biopower and culture. Jeff’s first book, The Fantasy of Disability, was published in 2016 by Routledge.

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