The Xenophiles on Identity

Who the hell are you?

Rokhaya Seck
Rokhaya Seck
in samenwerking met
The Xenophiles

Who do you think you are? Can we really decide for ourselves? To what extent do others determine our identity? When we answer that question, which threads do we pick? And what might make them change? Join us – writers and an audience from around the world – as we look in the mirror and explore the tangled web that makes us who we are. If you have a special story to share, please contact Rokhaya.

About the Xenophiles

The Xenophiles are Vamba, the Liberian-Kuwaiti scholar from Groningen; Julie, the American who speaks Dutch with a Frisian accent; Amal, the Indian Sri-Lankan who arrived from Glasgow; and Richard, the Dutchman who still swears like a South African on his bike. Tonights guests speaker is Naeeda Aurangzeb, a Dutch Pakistani whose Desi bangles make even more sound than her high heels.

About the speakers

Amal Chatterjee briefly served the worst cappuccinos in Scotland. Sri Lankan Tamil, Indian Bengali, from Calcutta, Glasgow, Amsterdam, Oxford, with toes in Paris and Catalunya. Novelist, playwright, fiction tutor (so of making things up) at Oxford University. He’s mentored writers from Peru to Poland, Uganda to the US, Nepal to the Netherlands. (Possibly overly) concerned about everywhere, – and in being one of the Xenophiles, knowing there is so much more to know about everyone, about the world.

Vamba Sherif was born in Liberia, although many Liberians think he’s a foreigner because of his strange accent. He’s lived in Kuwait and Syria, and has families in Sierra Leone and Guinea. He dabbles in acting, and his books have been published in many languages. He wrote, among other books, De Getuige (2011), De Zwarte Napoleon (2015) and Ongekende Liefde (2021).

Richard de Nooy managed to postpone his writing career by studying journalism in South Africa and psychology in the Netherlands, before going to on to procrastinate as a bouncer, cartoonist, editor, copywriter, and father. When he finally published his debut it won the University of Johannesburg Prize for Best First Book. He went on to write his next three novels in Dutch and English.

Julie Phillips is an American biographer, journalist, and critic who speaks Dutch with a Frisian accent. The product of four generations of holiday romances and a blind date. She is the author of books about motherhood, gender, and science fiction; writes for Trouw and 4Columns; and has published in The New Yorker, Granta, and Slate. She puts the XX in Xenophile, lives her life like a chameleon on a paisley shirt, and celebrates the alternative in all its forms.

Naeeda Aurangzeb (1974) is a journalist, writer and presenter. She presented De Halve Maan for the NTR and was co-presenter of Bureau Buitenland at the NPO. She was also a reporter on Radio 1 at Nieuws en Co. She lived and worked for several years in Tel Aviv-Jerusalem and the US. In 2021 she wrote Hé, lekker ding. 365 dagen vrouw and 365 dagen Nederlander, about her experiences as a woman and person of color. She also made the theater show 356 dagen ik.


Amal ChatterjeeWriter | Photo: Susan Ridder
Julie PhillipsWriter
Naeeda Aurangzebpresentatrice, maker en auteur