Mistaken Identity

March 01, 2018

Mistaken Identity

Asad Haider's Mistaken Identity: Race and Class in the Age of Trump will be published by Verso in April.

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.”  


“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.”

“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.”

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.”

“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.”

“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.”