Kenan Malik’s cv

Let Kenan Malik introduce himself:

I was born in India, brought up in Manchester and now live in London.

I studied neurobiology (at the University of Sussex) and History and Philosophy of Science (at Imperial College, London). In between I took up a post as a research psychologist at the Centre for Research into Perception and Cognition (CRPC) at the University of Sussex, working on problems of the mental representation of spatial relations.


Since 1990 I have been an independent writer, lecturer and broadcaster. My main areas of academic interest are philosophy of biology and philosophy of mind; scientific method and epistemology; theories of human nature; science policy; bioethics; political philosophy; the history, philosophy and sociology of race; and the history of ideas, particularly in the post-Enlightenment world. I have written and taught extensively in all these areas, both academically and for a more general audience.


I have written two books: The Meaning of Race: Race, History and Culture in Western Society (Palgrave / New York University Press, 1996); and Man, Beast and Zombie: What Science Can and Cannot Tell Us About Human Nature (Weidenfeld & Nicolson [2000] / Rutgers University Press, [2002]). The Meaning of Race examines the historical development, and philosophical and political roots, of the idea of race. It also explores the relationship between the idea of race and contemporary theories of multiculturalism and pluralism.


Man, Beast and Zombie investigates the historical roots, philosophical assumptions and methodological problems of contemporary theories of human nature, in particular evolutionary psychology and cognitive science

If this sort of thing is your cup of tea, here’s his new weblog, Work in Progress. Read the troubling essay on Maori rights for a start.

Giant squid attacks boat:

“A French yacht taking part in the Jules Verne round-the-world sailing trophy has been attacked by a giant squid in the mid-Atlantic, its skipper announced by radio link… The giant squid, Architeuthis dux, is the world’s largest invertebrate and can reach 18 metres in length, but it is also highly elusive, with only about 250 sightings officially recorded — most of them of dead animals on beaches.” Sydney Morning Herald

Zoo penguins intent on futile ‘migration’

S.F. flock swims round and round in pool

Brainwashed by six newcomers from Ohio, 46 penguins at the San Francisco Zoo have abandoned their burrows and embarked on a great migration —

except their pool is not exactly the coast of South America and there’s really nowhere for them to go.

“We’ve lost complete control,” said Jane Tollini, their mystified keeper. “It’s a free-for-all in here. After 18 years of doing this job, these birds are making mincemeat of me.” San Francisco Chronicle

Are the Saudis Pushing for an Iraq Coup?

Arab leaders hope to head off a war with a plan to facilitate Saddam’s overthrow by his own generals. Time magazine reports that it has exclusive information that the Saudis are trying to arrange a U.N.-brokered amnesty for all but the most upper echelons of the Ba’ath Party to encourage the Republican Guard and other powerful Iraqis to turn on Saddam Hussein and overthrow him, to avert a U.S.-led war and postwar chaos. Cooperating with disarmament in accordance with U.N. resolutions would be a condition of amnesty for coup leaders. But would Bush stand for being diverted from war by a Saudi-engineered coup? Who really believes that the weapons of mass destruction are anything more than the pretext for U.S. warmongering? Time‘s reporter writes:

“Politically, there would be nothing better for President Bush than to remove Saddam and disarm Iraq without firing a shot,” says a Western diplomat. “All along, Washington’s hope has been that as pressure gets high enough, the people around Saddam will take matters into their own hands.”

But this is not likely, on several counts. First, it would prevent a postwar U.S. occupation and seizure of Iraqi oil resources. If the U.S.’s investment in this war relates to any extent to attempting to extricate ourselves from our legacy of dependence on the Saudis, a coup would not be good enough. Moreover, it would fail to satisfy Bush’s goal in making this personal, getting back at the “guy who tried to kill Daddy” and surpassing his father’s shortcomings in not marching on Baghdad a decade ago.

If the Saudis’ goal is to reinforce regional stability, prevent chaos and prop up their own increasingly beleaguered regime, they’d do the minimum necessary to avert war. They’re certainly not going to be seen as supporting a significant opposition challenge to the status quo. Such a more limited “regime change” would probably not address the Ba’athists’ oppression of the minorities in Iraq, and, handy for both themselves and the Saudis, would exclude the opposition from more than token powersharing. An amnesty of many of the oppressors could leave the door open to private vengeance and a bloodbath unless an iron fist continued to restrain the opposition.

Inspectors Find Empty Warheads in an Iraqi Depot:

Has the dysadministration found its pretext? Increasingly desperate at U.N. inspectors’ not coming up with evidence of “material breaches” of U.N. disarmament resolutions, the U.S. continues to emphasize discrepancies in Baghdad’s December weapons declaration. The eleven 122-mm. warheads appear to be left over from the Iran-Iraq war and, it bears repeating, were empty. NY Times They just weren’t listed. There will, of course, be endless debates about whether the Iraqis are merely clerically negligent or deliberately deceptive. If the latter, it would hardly pay for them to be concealing a mere eleven empty warheads, and not concealing them very well at that, would it? [Can’t wait for the Hollywood blockbuster with the inside story about the arms inspectors!] But of course Rumsfeld thinks it is precisely the fact that the inspectors haven’t found anything damning that proved that the Iraqis are concealing something…

Boos for Bush (Sr.):

Silenced at AMA?: ‘Did ABC censor a crowd’s disapproval of George H. Bush? The former president — and father of the current president — delivered a taped message at the American Music Awards on Monday night, and sources who were there tell The Scoop that the crowd booed him… The boos from the crowd, however, were not audible in the broadcast, leading some to believe that they were deleted by censors.

“To be honest, I can’t tell you,” a spokesman for ABC told The Scoop, who referred the question to a spokesman for the production company.

“I don’t know and I can’t tell you,” said a spokesman for the production company, who referred questions back to ABC.’ MSNBC

"The United States of America has gone mad…"

Much, much linkage to this polemic by John Le Carré, from the Times of London. I would sit up and listen if for no other reason than that I still await each new Le Carré novel with bated breath and consider him one of the most discerning observers of human nature (and human deception) on the planet. For me, the head-turning observation in this essay is his report that, in a recent poll, one in two Americans has been hoodwinked enough by the dysadministration’s bait-and-switch to believe that the Saddam at hand, rather than the bin Laden in the bush, is responsible for the terrorist attacks on the US. We really live in a nation of contemptible gullibility, don’t we? I wouldn’t care so much if they weren’t going to impose their vicious stupidity in a rain of death and destruction on the innocents of the third world, and make my children and their children pay for it.

Of course Le Carré (and those of us who point to his message too?) is going to get savaged by the warblogger set; here’s Lileks bleating about him. It’s the usual bottomfeeding quest for inconsistencies, mixed with name-calling and kneejerk abhorrence for any challenges to one’s all-enfolding and self-justifying security blanket of bellicosity. But read his rant carefully, with your eye to the forest for the trees, and see if strikes you as anything more than trying to besmirch the person whose opinions challenge and offend you.

Then there’s this: Moon Shadow — on the Washington influence of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon and the World Unification Church, which is reputed to be responsible for including North Korea in the Axis of Evil®. By Wayne Madsen, a Washington-based investigative journalist.

Let’s Get Ready to Rumble!

Al Sharpton Gears Up to Take On the Dems

Sharpton’s combination of black-power politics and personal sensitivity to insult means he rarely distinguishes between a personal attack, a legitimate political criticism of his politics and a racist insult to all black people. Already he has shown that he’s planning to play the race card as a way of rebuffing normal questioning during the 2004 campaign.

“To even question why I’m running is insulting,” he writes in Al on America. “Pundits ask me why not run for Congress or a local office, an office they say I might have a better chance of winning. That question, too, is insulting. If I’m good enough for Congress, why aren’t I good enough for the highest office? It shows me the question is more about assigning me to a place rather than whether or not I represent a segment of this nation and am worthy of leading. What they’re really saying is, ‘Why don’t you stay in your place?’ Why didn’t Jackie Robinson stay in the Negro League? Why doesn’t Tiger Woods only play in Harlem?” The American Prospect

And: Conservative but straight-shooting Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby wrote today of Democrats’ hypocrisy in cozying up to Sharpton, although he muddied his point by trying to contrast it with his notion that Republicans appropriately repudiated Trent Lott’s racism. The Jacoby column is not online but you can track his interest in the issue, and his vituperation about Sharpton and the Dems, in this Google Search.