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Liberals have been arguing for nearly a century that racism is fundamentally an individual problem of extremist beliefs. Responding to Nazism, thinkers like gay rights pioneer Magnus Hirschfeld and anthropologist Ruth Benedict called for teaching people, especially poor people, to be less prejudiced. Here lies the origin of today's liberal anti-racism, from diversity training to Hollywood activism. Meanwhile, a more radical anti-racism flowered in the Third World. In his book, Arun Kundnani's book shows how anti-colonial revolutionaries and thinkers - from C.L.R. James, Claudia Jones, and Frantz Fanon - traced racism to the broad economic and political structures of modernity. They showed how racism was connected to colonialism and capitalism, a perspective adopted even by Martin Luther King. Today, as liberal anti-racism has proven powerless against structural oppression and the rise of the far right, the case became clear: fighting racism means striking at its capitalist roots.

In this book launch, Arun Kundnani will talk us through key arguments of the book with Vanessa E. Thompson, John Narayan and Lucia Pradella acting as discussants.


Arun Kundnani has been active in antiracist movements in Britain and the United States for three decades. He is a former editor of the journal Race & Class and was a scholar-in-residence at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at the New York Public Library. The Guardian has described him as "one of Britain’s best political writers.” He is the author of The Muslims Are Coming!: Islamophobia, Extremism, and the Domestic War on Terror (Verso, 2015) and What Is Antiracism?: And Why It Means Anticapitalism (Verso, 2023). 

Vanessa Eileen Thompson is an assistant professor in Black Studies at the Department of Gender Studies at Queen’s University. Her scholarship focuses on black studies, anti-colonialism, state violence and global abolition, critical racism studies and activist ethnographies. She has published on black movements in France and Europe more broadly and black abolitionist world-making. She recently published Abolition. A Reader (2022).

John Narayan is a Senior Lecturer in European and International Studies at King’s College London and an anti-racist scholar of globalization and inequality. His current research centres on abolitionism, and the political economy of the influential anti-racist scholar Ambalavaner Sivanandan.

Lucia Pradella is a Reader in International Political Economy at King's College London. She has published extensively on Marx's critique of political economy and on workers' movements, migration, imperialism, and alternatives to capitalism. 

At this event


Reader in International Political Economy

John Narayan

Senior Lecturer in European and International Studies