Author(s): Asad Haider
Description: Whether class or race is the more important factor in modern politics is a question right at the heart of recent history's most contentious debates. Among groups who should readily find common ground, there is little agreement. To escape this deadlock, Asad Haider turns to the rich legacies of the black freedom struggle. Drawing on the words and deeds of black revolutionary theorists, he argues that identity politics is not synonymous with anti-racism, but instead amounts to the neutralization of its movements. It marks a retreat from the crucial passage of identity to solidarity, and from individual recognition to the collective struggle against an oppressive social structure. Weaving together autobiographical reflection, historical analysis, theoretical exegesis, and protest reportage, Mistaken Identity is a passionate call for a new practice of politics beyond colorblind chauvinism and "the ideology of race."
Review: "Asad Haider renews the critique of identity politics for the contemporary Left. Drawing on the work of British cultural studies, black feminism, and theories of the subject (and subjection), Haider writes in an open and persuasive prose to show how identity is always partial and ambivalent, deflecting from the larger racial ideologies while reproducing its terms. This is a fresh and timely book, thoughtful and provocative." - Judith Butler, author of Gender Trouble and Frames of War "Reviving what has become a deeply unfashionable anti-racist standpoint, Asad Haider indicts the complicity of "identity politics" from the left. For him, the dissident mentalities and meticulous historical methods of open-ended, ecumenical commitment to radical social transformation are still valid. This spiky little book shows how opposition might be salvaged from an ocean of pessimism and despair." - Paul Gilroy, author of The Black Atlantic and There Ain't No Black in the Union Jack "Mistaken Identity will inspire some, piss off others, and compel all of us to reconsider how we fight back. A bold, fresh, and radical critique of so-called "identity politics," this book deserves a wide reading-especially now, when liberal multiculturalism, the "renaturalization" of capitalism, and a resurgent bourgeois black nationalism draped in radical language forecloses the possibility of revolutionary solidarity. Asad Haider proclaims another universality is possible, and it's probably not what you think." - Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination "Asad Haider offers a devastating and constructive critique of what is commonly understood as "identity politics," while still maintaining the centrality race, racism and racist oppression in capitalism." - Bill Fletcher, Jr., coauthor of Solidarity Divided and former president of TransAfrica Forum "Pithy, smart and readable, Mistaken Identity is a wonderful book for our time. Notwithstanding his critique of identity, there is a compelling authenticity to Haider's voice, making him someone one wants to think with about shaping a left vision today." - Wendy Brown, author of States of Injury and Undoing the Demos
Author Biography: Asad Haider is a writer and activist in the San Francisco Bay Area, a PhD student in the History of Consciousness Department at UC Santa Cruz and the co-founder of Viewpoint Magazine.