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Berkeley Arts & Letters: David Livingstone Smith in conversation with David P. Barash / On Inhumanity: Dehumanization and How to Resist It

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Booksmith and Berkeley Arts & Letters are very pleased to host David Livingstone Smith for his new book On Inhumanity: Dehumanization and How to Resist It. He'll be in conversation with David P. Barash, author of the just-out Threats: Intimidation and Its Discontents.

This event is free and all ages, but RSVP is required.

You can order On Inhumanity here – we're offering free shipping throughout San Francisco and the East Bay.

The Rwandan genocide, the Holocaust, the lynching of African Americans, the colonial slave trade: these are horrific episodes of mass violence spawned from racism and hatred. We like to think that we could never see such evils again-that we would stand up and fight. But something deep in the human psyche-deeper than prejudice itself-leads people to persecute the other: dehumanization, or the human propensity to think of others as less than human. This book looks at the mechanisms of the mind that encourage us to see someone as less than human. There is something peculiar and horrifying in human psychology that makes us vulnerable to thinking of whole groups of people as subhuman creatures. When governments or other groups stand to gain by exploiting this innate propensity, and know just how to manipulate words and images to trigger it, there is no limit to the violence and hatred that can result.

“This brilliant and powerful book is a philosophically sophisticated and prophetically courageous treatment of dehumanization, especially in regard to race. It is timely and needful in our monstrous times! Don’t miss it!” – Cornel West, Professor of the Practice of Public Philosophy, Harvard University, author of Black Prophetic Fire

“This book is firm but gentle, wise but accessible. Its reflections on our worst habits of politics are phrased in such a way that they allow us to see what better habits might be.” – Timothy Snyder, Richard C. Levin Professor of History, Yale University, author of On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century

"On Inhumanity profoundly interrogates the processes that lead ordinary people to engage in horrific acts of violence against others. Tracing common themes across the Holocaust, lynching, and genocides, Smith identifies dehumanization—seeing human beings as subhuman creatures—as the central feature of these mass atrocities, as well as of everyday forms of racial oppression. Most compelling is that Smith refuses to conclude that dehumanization is our inevitable destiny and instead charts a course for resisting it. On Inhumanity brilliantly provides a chilling warning of repeating the past and a hopeful call to create a more humane future." – Dorothy Roberts, George A. Weiss University Professor of Law and Sociology and the Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Professor of Civil Rights, University of Pennsylvania, author of Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-first Century.

You can order On Inhumanity here – we're offering free shipping throughout San Francisco and the East Bay.

David Livingstone Smith is Professor of Philosophy at the University of New England in Biddeford, Maine. He has written or edited nine books, including Less Than Human: Why We Demean, Enslave and Exterminate Others (St. Martin's Press, 2011), which won the 2012 Anisfield-Wolf award for nonfiction. His work has been translated into seven languages. David is an interdisciplinary scholar, whose publications are cited not only by other philosophers, but also by historians, legal scholars, psychologists, and anthropologists. He has been featured in several prime-time television documentaries, is often interviewed and cited in the national and international media, and was a guest at the 2012 G20 economic summit, where he spoke about dehumanization and mass violence.

David P. Barash is an evolutionary biologist and professor of psychology emeritus at the University of Washington. He's written more than 250 peer-reviewed scientific articles on human and animal behavior, and has written, co-authored and edited 39 books, most recently Threats: intimidation and its discontents, which was just published on Oct. 1 by Oxford University Press. 

You can order Threats: Intimidation and Its Discontents here – we're offering free shipping throughout San Francisco and the East Bay.

This event is free and all ages, but RSVP is required.