In an age where the line between cultural appreciation and cultural appropriation seems ever more blurred, can anyone actually own a culture? On April 24, acclaimed author and public intellectual Martin Puchner comes to Intelligence Squared to talk about the themes of his new book Culture: A New World History, where he shows us that the history of mankind has always been a story of borrowing from one another and that this is something to be celebrated, not lamented. It was, after all, Persian polymath Ibn Sina who translated and preserved the Greek philosophy that was later rediscovered in the European Renaissance. The idea of ownership implicit in debates about cultural appropriation, he argues, presents an insular tale about how culture evolves — flattening out the complicated textures of human history and, in the end, what truly makes us us.
Join us as Puchner shows us the surprising threads of cultural transmission that have been woven to create the civilisations we both esteem and condemn today.
Book bundles include one ticket for the online debate, plus a paperback copy of Culture: A New World History by Martin Puchner with free UK P&P. Books will be posted within 1-2 weeks of the event finishing. Click here to purchase a book bundle.
Byron and Anita Wien Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Harvard University and author of several books in history, philosophy and literature. His latest book is Culture: A New World History.