Whose Century Is It?

Ideas, Trends & Twists Shaping the 21st Century.

Latest Episodes

Rebuilding Brazil's economy requires more than BRICS and China

Whose Century Is It? August 15, 2017

Brazil's economy was blazing along in the first decade of this century, turbo-charged by China's appetite for commodities. And there was the added boost of being named, by a Goldman Sachs exec, one of the rising economies to watch — the BRICS, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Then China's economic growth slowed, demand for commodities dropped and Brazil fell into its worst recession in a century, intensified by its worst corruption scandal ever. Brazil is beginning to emerge now, after two years of economic contraction and political turbulence. What are its prospects for again being seen as one of the great rising economic powers of this century? Host Mary Kay Magistad visited Rio de Janeiro to find out.

Bumps along South Africa's yellow BRIC road

Whose Century Is It? August 02, 2017

South Africans' hopes and expectations that their country might become a democratic and economic leader in Africa, helped by a strong relationship with China and membership in the BRICS group — a collection of big countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) expected to emerge as economic leaders in this century — haven't turned out quite as planned. South Africa dipped into recession this year, has unemployment near 30 percent, and a deeply unpopular and, many South Africans say, ineffective president, Jacob Zuma. What happened, what now, and what do South Africans make of the similarities they see between their president, and President Donald Trump? Host Mary Kay Magistad reports from South Africa.

Requiem for Liu Xiaobo

Whose Century Is It? July 17, 2017

Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo spent much of his life advocating for basic political rights and democracy in China. For that, he spent years imprisoned by a government that feels threatened by such demands. He was in prison when he won the Nobel Prize in 2010, serving 11 years for "subversion of state power," and he was in prison as his liver cancer advanced. He was released, under guard, to a state hospital, and died there July 13, 2017. Chinese authorities have repeatedly called Liu Xiaobo a criminal. They have censored information about him at home and appear to hope the world will forget him. That's unlikely. When an individual is brave enough to stand up to an authoritarian power on behalf of justice and rights for many, that stands out. And at a time when authoritarian tendencies are creeping in, in unexpected places, because people aren't always vigilant about protecting the democracy and rights they have, Liu's work and focus stand as a reminder that these things are precious to those who don't have them, and that authoritarians, once in power, rarely volunteer to cede power to citizens, unless pressure builds, and they have no other choice.

How China's past shapes dreams of future power

Whose Century Is It? June 30, 2017

China was one of the world's great powers for most of the past couple thousand years, and back on its heels only for a couple of centuries, as the Industrial Revolution took off and European colonialism expanded. Now, China's drawing on its past and moving with deliberation to reclaim what many Chinese feel is China's rightful place in the world. The challenges are many, but with slowing economic growth, an aging population and uncertain future challenges from within and outside China's borders, there's incentive to act now to cement China's place as a regional if not global leader. And that's what China's leaders are doing, drawing on their past for inspiration. Host Mary Kay Magistad talks with Howard French, author of "Everything Under the Heavens: How the Past Helps Shape China's Path to Global Power."

Can Chinese pragmatism help save the planet?

Whose Century Is It? June 15, 2017

China's leaders may not exactly be evangelizing about the perils of climate change, but compared to Donald Trump, these days, they look downright statesmanlike on this front. And Chinese policies on renewable energy, while often driven by pragmatic self-interest more than selfless concern for the planet, may nonetheless help tip the balance in the right direction in this century.

About the show

"Whose Century Is It?" is a biweekly podcast, exploring the ideas, trends and twists shaping the 21st century. Is this century China's, or once again America's, or someone else's entirely? It's too early to say; but creator and host Mary Kay Magistad offers interviews, stories and perspectives from around the world that provide informative — and often surprising — ways to think about the question. "Whose Century Is It?" is a coproduction between PRI's The World and Magistad, a former foreign correspondent and Asia hand who has reported from some 40 countries, on both sides of the turn of the 21st century.  

"Whose Century Is It?" is funded by a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation.