Mainstream Identity is a Golden Cage with Dr. Amara Lakhous | College of Arts

Mainstream Identity is a Golden Cage with Dr. Amara Lakhous

Date and Time


For Zoom link, please contact Professor Dorothy Odartey-Wellington at


In my life, I have never been part of a mainstream identity. I was born in Algeria to a very Berber family. I lived for 25 years as a minority in this Arabic context. In 1995, I immigrated to Italy and I experienced the challenges of belonging to the Muslim North African minority in Italy, especially after September 11th, 2001. In 2014, I moved to New York. This peripheral identity has pushed me to continually ask myself: How can I reconcile my culture of origin with new cultures? How should I behave with the majority population? How can I avoid ethnic ghettoization, exclusion, and self-exclusion? My peripheral identity is an important key for understanding my life and the basis of many of my novels that I have published in both Arabic and Italian.

Amara Lakhous was born in Algeria in 1970. He moved to Italy in 1995. He has a degree in philosophy from the University of Algiers and another in cultural anthropology from the University of Rome, La Sapienza where he completed a Ph.D. dissertation entitled “Living Islam as a Minority.” He is the author of five novels, three of which were written in both Arabic and Italian. His best known works are the much acclaimed Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio (2008), Divorce Islamic Style (2012), Dispute over an Very Italian Piglet (2014). The Prank of the Good Little Virgin in Via Ormea, came out in Italian in 2014 and published in English by Europa Editions in May 2016. The latest novel in Arabic Tir al-lilThe Bat (2019).

His novels have been translated from Italian into many languages: English, German, French, Spanish, Dutch, Japanese, Danish and Berber. Lakhous has been awarded, among others, the Flaiano Prize in Italy in 2006 and the Algerians Booksellers Prize in 2008. Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio has been adapted into a movie by the Italian director Isotta Toso in 2010 and many theater productions and it was chosen for the 2014 New Student Reading Project at Cornell University. 

He moved to New York City in August of 2014.  And he is currently a visiting professor at New York University.