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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

Professor Lord Bhikhu Parekh: Identity without Boundaries

27th November 2008, 18:30, Calman Learning Centre, Room 202

The rise of modernity is marked by a rigid and exclusive view of identity. Identity is understood in terms of sharp distinctions, unambiguous boundary, and the presence of the more or less hostile other who both sustains and threatens it. This view of identity leads to the politics of exploitation, hatred and domination. It needs to be replaced by one that is open, plural, interactive, and grounded in the reality of human interdependence.

Identity requires demarcation and distinctions, but demarcation need not set up boundaries and distinction need not lead to disjunction and separation. The lecture articulates such an alternative view of identity, which alone can provide the basis of global humanism, and explores what stands in the way of its adoption.

Professor Lord Bhikhu Parekh is a member of the House of Lords and was chair of the Runnymede Commission on the Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain (1998-2000), whose report, The Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain, was published in 2000.

Educated at the Universities of Bombay and London, Lord Parekh is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and of the Academy of the Learned Societies for Social Sciences and a Professor of Political Philosophy at the University of Westminster. His main academic interests include political philosophy, the history of political thought, social theory, ancient and modern Indian political thought, and the philosophy of ethnic relations.

He is the author of Rethinking Multiculturalism: Cultural Diversity and Political Theory (2000); Gandhi (2001); Colonialism, Tradition and Reform (1999); Gandhi's Political Philosophy (1989); Contemporary Political Thinkers (1982); Karl Marx's Theory of Ideology (1981); and Hannah Arendt and the Search for a New Political Philosophy (1981).


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