Philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah says race and nationality are social inventions being used to cause deadly divisions

Hannah Ellis-Petersen in The Guardian:

ScreenHunter_2314 Oct. 19 12.01Regarded as one of the world’s greatest thinkers on African and African American cultural studies, Appiah has taught at Yale, Harvard, Princeton and now NYU. He follows in the notable footsteps of previous Reith lecturers Stephen Hawking, Aung San Su Kyi, Richard Rodgers, Grayson Perry and Robert Oppenheimer.

The “Mistaken Identities” lectures cover ground already well trodden by the philosopher. His mixed race background, lapsed religious beliefs and even sexual orientation have, in his own words, put him on the “periphery of every accepted identity”.

But in the face of religious fundamentalism, Brexit and the need to reiterate in parts of the US that black lives matter, Appiah argues it is time we stopped making dangerous assumptions about how we define ourselves and each other.

Appiah’s lecture on nationality draws heavily on the “nonsense misconceptions” he saw emerge prominently in the Brexit and Donald Trump campaigns – that to preserve our national identity we have to oppose globalisation.

“My father went to prison three times as a political prisoner, was nearly shot once, served in parliament, represented his country at the United Nations and believed that he should die for his country,” Appiah says. “There wasn’t a more patriotic man than my father, and this Ghanaian patriot was the person who explicitly taught me that I was a citizen of the world. In fact, it mattered so much to him that he wrote it in a letter for us when he died.

More here.