The identity trap: a story of ideas and power in our time

Hosted by the School of Public Policy

Auditorium, Centre Building


Professor Yascha Mounk

Professor Yascha Mounk


Professor Andres Velasco

Professor Andres Velasco

In his new book, The Identity Trap: a story of ideas and power in our time, which he will discuss in this event, Yascha Mounk explores the transformation of a healthy appreciation for the culture and heritage of minorities into an obsession with group identity in all its forms.

He terms this as the "identity synthesis" which seeks to put each citizen's matrix of identities at the heart of social, cultural and political life. This, he argues, is "the identity trap". Mounk traces the intellectual origin of these ideas and their use as politica, social and cultural capital over the decades. He makes a nuanced case on why their application to areas from education to public policy is proving to be deeply counterproductive. He argues for universalism and humanism, and posits that the proponents of identitarian ideas will, though they may be full of good intentions, make it harder to achieve progress towards genuine equality.

Meet our speaker and chair

Yascha Mounk (@Yascha_Mounk) is a writer and academic known for his work on the rise of populism and the crisis of liberal democracy. He is Professor of Practice of International Affairs at Johns Hopkins University, and a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. He is the author of The People vs. Democracy: why our freedom is in danger and how to save it and The Great Experiment: why diverse democracies fall apart and how they can endure.

Andrés Velasco (@AndresVelasco) is currently the Dean of the School of Public Policy at LSE. He was the former Minister of Finance for Chile and has also served as Professor of Professional Practice in International Development at the School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University.More about this event

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