Centre for Research in Communication and Culture


8 December 2021

Cancel culture: what is it, and does it work?

Presented By Dr Pragya Agarwal for the CRCC Seminar Series

About this event

In this talk I will look at the culture of 'cancelling', which has become a polarising topic of debate recently. Is this a form of social justice, an attempt to take back power, or is it an attack on free speech? And, does cancel culture even exist? I will look at a few historic and contemporary examples of culture wars to discuss how bias and prejudice plays a role. 

Pragya Agarwal is a behavioural and data scientist, author, speaker and a consultant. As a Senior Academic in US and UK universities, she has held the prestigious Leverhulme Fellowship, following a PhD from the University of Nottingham. Her publications are on reading lists of leading academic courses across the world. Pragya is the author of (M)otherhood: On the choices of being a woman a hybrid memoir and scientific analysis of women’s fertility, and an urgent and timely examination of how political ideas of womanhood and motherhood are constructed. She is also the author of SWAY: Unravelling Unconscious Bias published with Bloomsbury Publishing, and ‘Wish we knew what to say: Talking with children about race’, a manual for parents, carers and educators of all backgrounds and ethnicities to talk to children about race and racism, published with Dialogue Books (Little, Brown/Hachette). Pragya works as a consultant and speaker with organisations around the world, including universities, corporate and non-profits, and schools, delivering talks and workshops on bias, anti-racism, social inclusion, power and privilege. A passionate campaigner for women’s rights, and two-time TEDx speaker herself, Pragya organised the first ever TEDxWoman event in the north of the UK. She regularly appears on panels and has given keynotes around the world. Pragya has appeared on NPR, BBC Woman’s Hour, BBC Breakfast, Sky News, Australian Broadcasting Service, and Canadian Radio. She is the founder of a social enterprise The Art Tiffin. and a research think-tank The 50 Percent Project investigating women’s status and rights around the world. Pragya is the winner of the Diverse Wisdom Writing award from Hay House Publishing in 2018, and was named as one of the 100 influential women in social enterprise in the UK, and one of 50 people creating change in the UK-India corridor. As a freelance journalist, Pragya writes - ethical, literary, scientific- articles widely. Her writing on bias and prejudice, motherhood, gender and racial inequality and mental health has appeared in The Guardian, New Scientist, Scientific American, Independent, BMJ, Times Higher Education, Huffington Post, Prospect, Forbes, and many more. Pragya has a mini podcast series ‘Outside the boxes’ examining how the labels and stereotypes affect us as a society, the science behind it, and what we can do about it. And, in 2020, she launched another mini-series ‘Wish We Knew What To Say’ to accompany her book of the same name. In six episodes, she speaks with parents of different ethnic backgrounds about their experiences and raising children with secure identities. Pragya moved to the UK from India almost twenty years ago to study for a Masters at the University of York on a British Council Fellowship, and now lives in the north- west with her family.


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