Mithu Sanyal on 'Transracialism' and Identity

July 15, 2021

As more and more Americans self-identify as multiracial,  transgressing categories of race still raise questions. Most prominently in the case of Rachel Dolezal, a former college professor and activist who identified as Black despite being born to white parents. Dolezal's story inspired German author, journalist and cultural critic Mithu Sanyal to write Identitti, a novel about the powerful role of internet culture in discourses on sexuality race. In today's episode, Sanyal discusses her novel and the current political debates about race and identity.


Photo by Regentaucher





Tom Zoellner (host) is the New York Times bestselling author of eight nonfiction books, including Island on Fire, Uranium Train, and The Heartless Stone. He teaches at Chapman University and Dartmouth College. A former reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle, he is the politics editor at the Los Angeles Review of Books.



Aida Baghernejad (co-host) is a (pop) culture and food journalist based in Berlin. Her work has appeared in a number of regional, national and international media outlets, among them the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the San Francisco Chronicle, tipBerlinIntro MagazineSpex and Deutschlandfunk Kultur. She has previously taught at King’s College London and the Humboldt Universität Berlin.


Lisa Bartfai (producer) is an independent radio journalist and producer splitting her time between rural Maine and Southern California. Her work explores the intersection of culture and politics, and can be heard on NPR stations and podcasts all over the country.