Breaking Down Cultural Labels: Ta-Nehisi Coates Presents a Festival on Identity

By Kaila Allison


Albertine bookstore is a Francophile’s paradise. Located just blocks from New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, the shop is home to over 14,000 titles in French and English representing 30 French-speaking countries. French culture largely encompasses a global exchange of political and artistic ideas. Under the wing of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, Albertine puts on an impressive schedule of events during the year featuring top names in French and American culture.

The latest announcement of the bookstore is its 3rd annual Festival Albertine, curated by National Book Award-winning author of Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates. The 5 day free festival explores the theme of the dynamic nature and significance of national identity in the United States and France. Claudia Rankine, Adam Shatz, and Denis Darzacq are just some of the 28 renowned speakers who will present at the festival November 2nd through 6th, at 972 Fifth Avenue in New York.


Credit: Ian Douglas

Credit: Ian Douglas


In such trying political times, the message of identity is so fitting. The festival will bring together these French and American scholars, artists, and thinkers to discuss the meaning of our cultural labels. In the era of immigration controversy, Black Lives Matter, and growing extremism, the politics of race are changing in both of these countries, and around the world. “Our vehicle for this understanding will be the arts–dance, music, literature, film and the visual arts,” Coates says in a statement from Albertine. “These questions of identity have been tackled ad infinitum by those interested in sociology and electoral politics. But art shapes the imagination and outlines the sense of what is possible. It is art that attacks and interrogates our labels and chosen names, and reduces us to our common humanity.”

For the full line-up of events, check out Albertine’s website. And for those of you that can’t make it to New York, the talks are available for livestream at this link.

Festival Albertine | November 2-6, 2016 | 972 Fifth Avenue, New York City


Curated by FORTH Nonfiction Editors.

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