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Writer and broadcaster Kenan Malik to deliver the Holyoake Lecture 2022 in Manchester

2022 Holyoake Lecturer Kenan Malik

2022 Holyoake Lecturer Kenan Malik

Humanists UK today announced that writer, lecturer, and broadcaster Kenan Malik will deliver the prestigious annual Holyoake Lecture on 16 November, in Manchester. Early bird tickets are available to purchase now.

Kenan Malik is a writer, lecturer, broadcaster and Observer columnist. A former Moral Maze panellist, he has presented BBC Radio 3’s Nightwaves and Radio 4’s Analysis. His previous books include The Quest for a Moral Compass, and From Fatwa to Jihad, which was shortlisted for the Orwell Prize.

Very different questions have all emerged from today’s heated debates around race, identity and culture. The ‘culture wars’ have generated ferocious argument, but little clarity. In this lecture, based on the themes of his upcoming book, Not So Black and White, Kenan Malik seeks that clarity by taking the long view, explaining the real origins of ‘race’ in Western thought, and tracing its path from those beginnings to today’s fractious world. In doing so, in this lecture Kenan will seek to upend many accepted views about ‘race’, identity, whiteness, and privilege.

The Holyoake Lecture is named after George Holyoake, who co-founded the Cooperative Movement and coined the word ‘secularism’. The lecture, returning to Manchester for the first time since 2019, examines an aspect of politics or contemporary social or political issue, especially as it relates to secularist and humanist issues, including liberalism, democracy, social justice, feminism, anti-racism, LGBT rights, and equality.

In recent years, the Holyoake Lecture has developed a reputation for attracting a diverse array of speakers from across the political spectrum. In 2018, Humanist of the Year Award Winner Joan Bakewell provided a fascinating account of 20th century social activism, rooted in the humanist perspective on life and ethics. Douglas Murray delivered the lecture in 2017, following on from Owen Jones in 2016, both speaking on moving ‘towards a humanist politics’. In 2013, Humanists UK Vice President Professor Jim Al-Khalili spoke on ‘The Forgotten Legacy of Arabic Science’, while Professor Kate Pickett spoke in 2012 on the measurable human impact of inequality in a society. In 2019’s lecture, ITV journalist and broadcaster Robert Peston considered the ‘broad church’ nature of UK political parties, and explored the corrosive effects of the language of ‘betrayal’ and threats to our democratic norms.

Announcing the lecture, Humanists UK Chief Executive Andrew Copson said:

‘The Holyoake Lecture has always been a unique lecture in our annual lecture series, exploring some of the most challenging – and sometimes controversial – debates of our times. Kenan Malik has made a name for himself as one of the UK’s most thoughtful writers and speakers, including with his writings on ‘race’, and we look forward to another lecture in the Holyoake Lecture’s great tradition offering a unique perspective on the changing world around us.’


For further comment or information, media should contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson at or phone 020 7324 3072 or 07534 248 596.

Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by 100,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.

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