October 30, 2023

The Roots of Encounter

Meeting Multiculturalism in Zadie Smith's “White Teeth”

Event Series: Cultural Encounters: Books that Have Made a Difference

Showing the The Roots of Encounter: Meeting Multiculturalism in Zadie Smith's “White Teeth” Video

In 2000, Zadie Smith published her debut novel White Teeth, which was immediately met with critical acclaim. It has since sold more than two million copies and was adapted into a four-part television drama in 2002. Set predominantly between the mid-1970s to late 1990s within a burgeoning, multicultural London, White Teeth narrates the complex intergenerational histories of three families, exploring issues of immigration, integration, belonging, and cultural encounter. Though not naïve in its optimism, White Teeth champions the richness of multiculturalism. Drawing the novel into dialogue with Pope Francis’ concept of a “culture of encounter,” Anna Blackman’s talk will examine how societal contexts have changed since the novel was first published, as well as the lessons White Teeth still has to offer.

This event is sponsored by the Future of the Humanities Project and Blackfriars Hall, Oxford. It is part of the year-long series, Cultural Encounters: Books that Have Made a Difference.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Chris Boland


Anna Blackman

Anna Blackman

Anna Blackman is a lecturer in Catholic religious education at the University of Glasgow. Her primary areas of expertise are Catholic social thought and practice, particularly grassroots organizing and the practice of nonviolence. Blackman also serves on the Columban's Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation Committee and co-chairs a roundtable on nonviolence and just peace sponsored by Catholic Theological Ethics in the World Church. In summer 2023, she co-edited a special issue of the Journal of Catholic Social Thought on nonviolence and just peace in Catholic social thought and practice.

Michael Scott

Michael Scott

Michael Scott (moderator), is senior dean, fellow of Blackfriars Hall, Oxford, college advisor for postgraduate students, and a member of the Las Casas Institute. He also serves as senior advisor to the president of Georgetown University. Scott previously served as the pro-vice-chancellor at De Montfort University and founding vice-chancellor of Wrexham Glyndwr University, where he is professor emeritus.