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Ethics of Compassion and Politics of Difference in Shah and Hanif’s Fiction

Dr. Munazza Yaqoob, Chairperson, Department of English, Female Campus, International Islamic University, Islamabad


Tich Naht Hanh’s philosophy of compassion which he terms as ‘interbeing’ is an attempt to foster a culture of peace and non-violence in the human world. His fourteen precepts of engaged Buddhism given in his Interbeing: fourteen guidelines for engaged Buddhism lay emphasis on recognizing ‘others’ as people and dismantling the barriers and boundaries erected by one’s adherence to one’s ideology and viewpoints. This process of recognition of ‘other’ also involves compassionate dialogue with those who are different from us in terms of class, gender, belief and ideology, and sharing the resources with them if they are in need. This philosophy strongly recommends taking care of those who are suffering due to marginalization based on ethnic, racial, gender or class differences. It teaches mindfulness and compassion by promoting the idea that all that exists in the universe, i.e., human and non-human life is interdependent and their existence is conditioned by this interdependence.

Thus Hanh’s philosophy of ‘interbeing’ is an attempt to recognize socially, culturally, and economically marginalized groups as people and nature as inseparable part of human existence on earth. The philosophy considers the possibility that individuals from varied economic locations and with different ethnic identities can form relationships of mutual respect. The present paper employs the philosophy of interbeing as a framework to analyze in a comparative mode Bina Shah’s Slum Child and Mohammad Hanif’s Our Lady of Alice Bhatti in order to find out whether these texts recognize the marginalized and the underclass as people. Textual analysis will focus on the representation of the marginalized in order to find out whether the novelists through these texts register their protest against social oppression and injustices and thereby attempt to dismantle politics of difference through acts of compassion.

About the presenter:

Dr. Munazza Yaqoob is Assistant Professor and Chairperson of Department of English, Female Campus, International Islamic University, Islamabad. She is member of the International Comparative Literature Association, Board of Reviewer of the International Journal of Learning, Board of Reviewer of the International Journal of the Humanities, Advisory Board of Academic Research International, and Reading Committee for MS/PhD, National University of Modern Languages Islamabad (NUML). Her areas of research interest include Peace Studies, Comparative Literature, Literary Theory, Ideology and Literature, Cultural Studies, Feminism, South Asian Fiction in English, Critical and Feminist Pedagogy, Environmentalism and Literature and Postmodernism. Dr. Munazza Yaqoob has presented at various national and international conferences, seminars and colloquium. She has also been published in national and international journals of interdisciplinary nature. Keeping in view her long academic and international experience, the university has also appointed her as Students’ Advisor, Incharge of Critical Thinking Forum and Faculty Advisor of Human Rights Forum and IIUI Media Society. She has organized a number of seminars, international conferences and discussion forums in order to build useful bridges between students’ community and civil society.

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 4/03/2014 12:20:00 PM,

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