Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò Visits the BPL

Philosopher Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò will discuss his new book, Elite Capture: How The Powerful Took Over Identity Politics (And Everything Else), which explores the process by which a radical concept can be stripped of its political substance and liberatory potential by becoming the victim of elite capture—deployed by political, social, and economic elites in the service of their own interests. 

Following this conversation, which will also include Boston University Assistant Professor Samia Hesni, there will be an audience Q&A, and the program will conclude with an author signing facilitated by Trident Booksellers & Cafe.

More about the book

“Identity politics” is everywhere, polarizing discourse from the campaign trail to the classroom and amplifying antagonisms in the media, both online and off. 

But the compulsively referenced phrase bears little resemblance to the concept as first introduced by the radical Black feminist Combahee River Collective. While the Collective articulated a political viewpoint grounded in their own position as Black lesbians with the explicit aim of building solidarity across lines of difference, identity politics is now frequently weaponized as a means of closing ranks around ever-narrower conceptions of group interests.

But the trouble, Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò deftly argues, is not with identity politics itself. Through a substantive engagement with the global Black radical tradition and a critical understanding of racial capitalism, Táíwò identifies the process by which a radical concept can be stripped of its political substance and liberatory potential by becoming the victim of elite capture—deployed by political, social, and economic elites in the service of their own interests.

Táíwò’s crucial intervention both elucidates this complex process and helps us move beyond a binary of “class” vs. “race.” By rejecting elitist identity politics in favor of a constructive politics of radical solidarity, he advances the possibility of organizing across our differences in the urgent struggle for a better world.

In an endorsement, prison abolitionist and prison scholar Ruth Wilson Gilmore said, “I was waiting for this book without realizing I was waiting for this book.”

Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Georgetown University. He is the author of Elite Capture: How the Powerful Took Over Identity Politics (And Everything Else) and Reconsidering Reparations. His work exploring the intersections of climate justice and colonialism has been featured in The New Yorker, The Nation, Boston Review, Dissent, The Appeal, Slate, Al Jazeera, The New Republic, Aeon, and Foreign Policy

Samia Hesni is Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Boston University. Their research is about language and oppression: examining how certain kinds of language introduce and reinforce stereotypes, and how people use implicit speech to challenge power dynamics.

Event date: 
Wednesday, November 16, 2022 - 6:00pm to 7:30pm
Event address: 
Copley Square
Boston, MA 02115
Elite Capture: How the Powerful Took Over Identity Politics (and Everything Else) By Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781642596885
Availability: On Our Shelves Now for Store Pickup
Published: Haymarket Books - May 3rd, 2022

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