5 Questions for Angela Saini
25. That was the number of books I hauled back from my trip to New Zealand and Australia where I fell into a book frenzy while visiting The Woman's Bookstore in Auckland, The Bookshop Darlinghurst on Oxford street in Sydney, and Hares & Hyenas located in the Victoria Pride Center in Melbourne.
I came across the first book by award-winning science Journalist and Author Angela Saini during my trip to New Zealand & Australia earlier this year.Saini presents in radio & television programs, and her writing has appeared in National Geographic, New Scientist, The Sunday Times, and Wired. She is a spring 2022 Logan Nonfiction Program Fellow and will be in Berlin in summer 2022 as part of the Humboldt Residency Programme on social cohesion.
Her book "Inferior" caught my attention and after reading the blurb on the back I turned to the Staff and asked if they had more books by this Author. She Informed me that there was a second book called but they were sold out. So the hunt for the second book took me to Sydney where I had called ahead and reserved the last copy for myself.
Angela Saini has the great ability to take on difficult and complex topics and make them approachable in which you, as a reader, develop a connection to the topic and become captivated by it. Her books are page-turners to me and most possibly in my personal top 5 of books, I read so far this year.
After finishing the second book "Superior - the return of race science" - which was named book of the year by The Guardian & others and winner of the Transmission prize - that analyzes the controversial topic of Neuro-racism and the history of race science. I wanted to know more and connect with the Author so I connected with her on Instagram & asked her to be the next edition of my Blog posts series "5 questions for..."
So without further ado, here are some questions for Angela,
1. As I have seen on your social media you are currently in Berlin. Berlin has always been one of my favorite, a melting pot of cultures, and identities that all come together in this capital.
What were two major differences in Berlin when it comes to societal behavior that you noticed compared to NYC where you currently live?
Berlin is one of my favourite places, too. It's a city constantly reflecting on its history, but also always looking to a more hopeful future. Like New York City, I love how relaxed people here are about sexuality and gender, expressing themselves openly through their clothes, their hair, and their art. Things are not perfect by any means, but I hugely admire Berlin for not being afraid to question the horrors of its past and ask itself how it can do better for every new generation. It understands its history but it's not bound by it, which is a refreshing change from other parts of the world that are grappling with a rise in ethnic and religious nationalism.
2. In your opinion, what is a substantial topic that is not discussed - or not discussed enough - in feminism?
I guess we're getting better, but there are a lot of blindspots in the feminist movement, particularly around race and class. In fact, I'm not sure we can call it one movement at all - it's multiple movements. I draw a lot of wisdom and insights from Indigenous feminism, Islamic feminists like Fatima Mernissi, and from the brilliant literature looking at caste and gender that has been published in India.
3. Based on your answer above why do you think it is important & do you think feminism can stand without this aspect?
At its heart, feminism is about a more equal world, and injustice is a basic, fundamental driver of social change. We all feel aggrieved by being treated unfairly. So while public support for gender equality might wax and wane, that fight will never die completely. It can't as long as we feel the pain of inequality. What we need to keep in mind is that there is no simple enemy here. Patriarchal systems are subtle and manifold; they're not just about all men oppressing all women. This is about how we all think and behave, the choices we make, and the support we show each other. I hope my next book, The Patriarchs, can help shine a light on that.
4. I have read both of your books “inferior” & “superior” with great enthusiasm. What I admired was the way you “interviewed” the scientists/experts in a way that was so Objective & neutral.
My question is, how do you prepare for an Interview with a person like Gerhard Meisenberg or Bruce Lahn, is it challenging for you?
As a journalist, I'm used to interviewing people from all kinds of backgrounds with all kinds of opinions. I'm often asked if I get angry or upset speaking to racists or sexists, but I don't anymore, honestly. I'm curious about them, and often I feel a great deal of pity for them. It is a very miserable person who has to rest their entire sense of self on the fact that they are white or that they're a man. This is why those drawn into extreme far-right or Incel movements tend to be outcasts or lonely already - they're looking for a community of people that will make them feel better about themselves, that will tell them that they have some worth.
5. We have seen that social conditioning & surrounding can influence our Brain, Gender & overall persona we Identify with, if you could give me three vital pillars that are crucial for healthy conditioning, what would those be?
All children should be raised with the same range of education and toys. It's incredible how much even subtle things like the clothes we're given to wear and the toys we are bought as kids can shape our mental development, and teach us about what's socially appropriate. Humans have among the most plastic brains of any species, certainly more plastic than any other primate, which speaks to our immense cultural adaptability. If we want to build a fairer world, we can start by making sure we don't fill our children with stereotypes. What amazes me about this new generation coming up now is that they often have more to teach their parents about gender than their own parents have to teach them. My son, for instance, often accidentally switches around pronouns when referring to people - gender is a far more amorphous concept for children like him, and I find that beautiful.
Thank you Angela for taking the time & sharing your thoughts!
I can not wait for your next book!