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Global Racial Justice and the Everyday Politics of Crisis and Hope, 2021–22

What does it mean to decolonize economics? Why is it needed?

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In this talk we will explore the ways in which the Economics discipline continues to perpetuate historically produced Eurocentrism and structural exclusion, to the detriment not only of scientific quality, but also good economic policy. Economic theories, as other social theories, are affected by the context in which they are produced and they might express certain privileged perspectives. While these theoretical frameworks dominate economics textbooks globally, they may not be particularly relevant for understanding global problems or economies with different institutional structures, for example, due to their colonial past or peripheral position in the global economy. In this context, we will also discuss what it means to decolonize economics and why it is urgently needed. Decolonization is not simply about providing historical context, but to acknowledge that theories from outside the West can provide fruitful starting points. This is important not only to understand the process of development, but economic phenomena in general, even in the Global North. It also involves interrogating and challenging the ways in which the economy itself is sexist, racist, and colonial, and the consequences of an economics field that fails to see this. This means that we locate the struggle to change the economics field within the broader material struggle against racism, sexism, elitism and imperialism in society at large.


Speaker: Devika Dutt is a Berggruen Fellow at the University of Southern California. She holds a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, with a specialization in international finance, macroeconomics, political economy, and development. She is also a consultant to the Council on the Economics of Health for All of the World Health Organization. Her research is focused on the political economy of foreign exchange intervention, central bank swap agreements, the political economy of development policy (especially as it relates to international financial institutions), macroeconomic policy in developing economies, and decolonizing the economics discipline. She is also a member of the steering group and a co-founder of the online publication, Diversifying and Decolonizing Economics (D-Econ).

Discussant: Alden Young is an assistant professor of African American Studies and a faculty member of the International Development Studies Program of the UCLA International Institute. A political and economic historian of Africa, he is the author of "Transforming Sudan: Decolonization, Economic Development and State Formation" (Cambridge University Press, 2017). Young is particularly interested in the ways in which Africans participated in the creation of the current international order and has research interests on both sides of the Red Sea. He has done extensive fieldwork in Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.

Photo: Dan Komada/ Institute for Advanced Study.

Cosponsors: African Studies Center, International Development Studies Program

 Organizers: International Institute

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Duration: 01:32:14


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