26 October 2016
Hard to pin down
As the product of an interracial union between a Gold Coast anti-colonialist and the daughter of Attlee’s “Red Chancellor”, Sir Stafford Cripps, the one a Methodist and the other an Anglican, Kwame Anthony Appiah seemed an A-grade choice to deliver this year’s Reith Lectures on the subject of identity.
His aim, he told the enthusiastic audience at the London School of Economics gathered to hear lecture one on “Creed” (18 October), was to “challenge the settled assumptions of how identity works”. And you knew from the beginning that one of the most persistent lines of enquiry would take in the far from insignificant matter of himself.
A professor of philosophy and law at New York University, Appiah is both thoroughly engaging and, as he acknowledged in his preamble, hard to pin down: London taxi drivers boggle at his combination of accent and skin tone.
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