(Haarlem, NL, 1962) is an anthropologist and philosopher. His book Zingeving in het Westen: Traditie, strijdersethos en christendom (Finding Meaning in the West: Tradition, Warrior Ethos and Christianity) was published in 2016, his reworked thesis from the previous year. In it, as a practicing Catholic, he stands up for traditions because he believes them to be a significant aspect of our humanity. Thirty years ago, while Abspoel was researching the music of the Dogon in Mali, he wondered where the gulf between traditional society and our Western attitudes came from. A large portion of his book is dedicated to the history of Western mistrust towards tradition that, he says, can be traced back to the Germanic warriors who lived only to fight. Even now, that warrior ethos is dominant. Christianity, which preached humility, fit perfectly into the agenda of the warriors, and a combination of the two was beneficial for colonialism and other Western displays of power.(WU 2017)
Archive available for: Peter Abspoel
With: Anass Habib, Celal Altuntas, Farah Karimi, Ian Buruma, Jennifer Clement, Kamal Hors, Lex Bohlmeijer, Malini Subramaniam, Michaïl Sjisjkin, Peter Abspoel, Sjoerd de Jong, Ton van de Langkruis, Vonne van der Meer
On the festival's Opening Night, the focus is on freedom of speech. The evening started with Mikhail Shishkin, one of the most prominent representatives of contemporary Russian literature, delivering the Free the Word! speech. Next, the Oxfam Novib PEN Awards were handed out. The debate ''Writing in times of super-diversity' with writers Ian Buruma, Celal Altuntas and Peter Abspoel closed the evening.
The Opening Night is an English spoken programme organized in collaboration with Oxfam Novib, PEN International and PEN Nederland.
Free the Word!-speech by Mikhail Shishkin
Shishkin is the author of four widely acclaimed novels Pismovnik (2010), Maidenhair (2005), Taking of Izmail (2000) and Larionov´s Memoirs (1994), Shishkin is admired as a refined stylist whose fiction engages Russian and European literary traditions and forges an equally expansive vision for the future of literature. Shishkin has worked as a teacher and journalist. His novels have earned him the three most prestigious Russian literary awards: the Russian Booker Prize in 2000, the National Bestseller Prize in 2005, and the Bolshaya Kniga (Big Book) Prize in 2006 and 2011. His works have been translated into thirty languages.
Oxfam Novib PEN Awards
Afterward, the presentation of the prestigious Oxfam Novib PEN Awards honoured today's writers who risk their freedom and even their lives to seek out and publish the truth. The winners were be announced: the Palestine poetr Ashraf Fayadh, who is imprisoned in Saudi Arabia, and the Indian journalist Malini Subramaniam. The latter was able to come over to The Hague to receive the award from Farah Karimi, director of Oxfam Novib.
Debate with Ian Buruma, Celal Altuntas and Peter Abspoel
The debate 'Writing in times of super-diversity' followed, featuring writer and essayist Ian Buruma (New York Times, Guardian, NRC), writer Celal Altuntas (a.o. Het dorp van zeven broers / The Village of Seven Brothers) and anthropologist/writer Peter Abspoel (a.o. Zingeving in het Westen / Giving meaning in the West) as well as moderator Sjoerd de Jong, journalist and ombudsman with NRC Handelsblad newspaper. The subject was "Writing in times of super-diversity."
Host and music
This program was presented by Lex Bohlmeijer, with musical accompaniment by Kamal Hors (oud, voice) and Anass Habib (deff, voice).