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Zócalo/UCI Forum for the Academy and the Public
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Can Decolonization Explain Everything?


People place blame for inequality, climate change, political polarization, and other current woes on all kinds of bad actors and influences: authoritarians, corporations, globalization, social media. But the decline of Western empires during the 20th century was arguably the catalyst for it all. Decolonization changed millions of people’s lives—primarily for the better—transforming art, culture, global and local politics, economics, and our ways of understanding the world in the process. But decolonization is also profoundly misunderstood. Have Westerners in particular failed to grasp its importance—and is this getting in the way of solving society’s pressing problems? How has decolonization impacted everything from geopolitics to the moral panic over “cancel culture”?

Artist Serge Attukwei Clottey, and essayists and novelists Laila Lalami and Pankaj Mishra visit Zócalo to discuss why the English-speaking world can’t seem to fully absorb one of the central events of the recent past, and what it all means for our collective future.

Moderated by Kal Raustiala, Director, UCLA Burkle Center and Author, The Absolutely Indispensable Man: Ralph Bunche, the United Nations, and the Fight to End Empire.

Zócalo invites the in-person audience to continue the conversation with speakers and each other at a post-event reception with complimentary samosas from Paratta.


Photo credit: Installation by Serge Attukwei Clottey. Photo by Nana Osei. Courtesy of Simchowitz Gallery.