Kübra Gümüşay, born 1988 in Hamburg, studied political science in Hamburg and London. She is the author of the bestseller “Language & Being”, as well as the initiator of numerous campaigns and associations – including the anti-racism campaign #SchauHin, the feminist alliance #ausnahmslos and the campaign “Organised Love”. In 2018, Forbes magazine ranked her among the top 30 under 30 in Europe in the field of media and marketing.

September 28, 2020

Interview with jury member Kübra Gümüşay

Interview with jury member Kübra Gümüşay

An actual conversation begins with an awareness for the limitations on your own perspective. And also the awareness that we need each other. Speaking and conversing also basically means we have to be constantly translating. Not just from one language to another. Translating your own perception and perspective into language and making yourself understood can also be a tremendous feat. Many misunderstandings on a personal, but also on a social and political level are due to the fact that people feel their own perspectives are absolute and believe everyone else should see things their way. Or that others must submit to our perspective and declare it to be the standard measure of things. In a pluralistic society, in a democracy, in a society rooted in human rights and diversity, having an awareness for your own limitations is the most important step toward understanding.

How could we develop that kind of awareness in our everyday lives? By traveling, by conversing, or by practicing putting ourselves into other people’s perspectives?

Becoming aware of the limitations on our own perspectives doesn’t require travel, nor does it even require other people. It’s enough to take a look at ourselves and our surroundings, and to take notice of how much we have yet to comprehend as well as how limited our own capacity for grasping things is. However, it does of course help to travel to other contexts or countries, to talk to people who have different lifestyles, to develop an awareness for them – but that isn’t an absolute requirement.

The philosopher Wittgenstein said, "The limits of my language are the limits of my world." Would you agree with him on that point? To what extent can language overcome the limits and borders that are drawn between people, or perhaps open them up?

Language is a tool. It is as strong and as weak, as poor and as rich, and as prejudiced or as open and free as the people who use and shape it. No one language can map the entire world with all its complexity. A language can only map to the degree that the people living in it themselves wield power. That means it is up to us to work on the architecture of language, and to expand upon it so that as many people as possible can “be” in it. That’s the challenge that will accompany us throughout our lives. So, I would definitely agree with Wittgenstein (laughs).

June 12, 2018

Interview with jury member Kübra Gümüşay

Publicist and activist Kübra Gümüşay discusses her participation as a jury member and elucidates why it’s the arts that are holding our society together.

What moved you to become part of the jury?

The Power of the Arts is an award for initiatives which are looking to tackle social challenges at eye level. This is something that – in my opinion – is essential for the development of sustainable solutions. That’s why I love sitting on this jury.

Why is this particular moment the right time for us as a society to work toward a new “we”?

Societal values are not set in stone. They are malleable. That’s something we are currently experiencing at a rapid pace with a view to the general acceptance being seen for anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim, racist, and other declarations of a discriminatory nature. That is why a special level of effort is needed right now. We help to shape society – it doesn’t merely shape us. We all hold co-responsibility for the values being lived out in it. All of us.

The Power of the Arts advocates for the creation of a new “we” - how do you picture this new “we”?

The new “we” should truly account for and address the plurality and multifaceted nature of society. Doing so will create realities and circumstances that exemplify belonging.

Why are the arts so important for creating the opportunity for inclusion in society?

The arts have freedoms and margins of leeway that other forms of communication do not enjoy. And they can move hearts – even the hearts of people who cannot be reached through argumentation.

You’ve been involved in various issues. Which issue is particularly close to your heart?

Over the last two years, I have been particularly concerned with our culture of discourse, languages, and public thought. I think there’s a great deal of room for improvement.