InDebate: On Cancel Culture

Dr. Yoko Arisaka

On March 30th, 2021, the city newspaper Hannoversche Allgemeine (HAZ) reported that the city of Hannover cancelled a lecture by Professor Helmut Bley, a renowned historian of colonialism in Africa, because an activist group, Initiative für Diskriminierungssensibilität und Rassismuskritik (IDiRa), that was also invited as a discussant, protested.[1] Professor Bley was scheduled to speak about “Kolonialgeschichte von Afrikanern und Afrikanerinnen her denken“, as a keynote speech for the International Week against Racism that the city had planned in March. IDiRa’s complaint was that Professor Bley, as a white European male, should not speak authoritatively about the “experiences of Africans”, about the history of colonialism. The city government listened and decided that the planned event itself was untenable. Professor Bley was cancelled, and the subsequent ed op discussions overwhelmingly supported Professor Bley and blamed the city politics for cancelling the venue, as if they succumbed to the pressures of political correctness.

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