In October 2008, a chapter contributed by AKU-ISMC Professor Modjtaba Sadria, ‘Hegemony, Ethics and Reconciliation’, was published in Pathways to Reconciliation (Rothfield, Fleming, Komesaroff (eds), 2008).
The book, published by Ashgate Publishing, London, is a creative engagement with the central terms of reconciliation – forgiveness, nationhood, conflict resolution, justice and memory – as well as an exploration of the premises of listening and understanding the ‘other’. It is premised on the view that an essential pathway to the achievement of reconciliation lies in developing and disseminating critical concepts that capture the nuances of practice.
The book includes writing by prominent scholars and thinkers, including an introduction by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. It is divided into two sections: 'Pathways Towards and Away From Reconciliation' and 'Sites of Reconciliation'. Both of these sections explore reconciliation: what makes it possible, what impedes it, how to foster and promote it and how to build the social conditions in which it can flourish.
The book draws on a range of different fields in the humanities and social sciences, including poststructuralism, hermeneutics, subaltern studies and social theory. These fields are explored in relation to contemporary sites of conflict and peace-making, bringing together a unique range of perspectives on the complex issue of reconciliation, while offering responses to the key questions being asked of it today.
Sadria’s chapter, ‘Hegemony, Ethics and Reconciliation’, explores the difficulties posed by reconciliation from two different perspectives, supporting the idea of the potential for conflict as a tool for change rather than an end in itself; one that is concerned with mutual destruction.
“The first angle is an exploration of the notion of refusal or resistance to reconcile, influenced by perceptions of the context of reconciliation, and also implicitly related to the goals of reconciliation,” Sadria explains.
“The second concerns problems related to listening, in terms of need and difficulty. These matters must be overcome if we are to realise the possibility of conflict as a tool for change rather than an end in itself.”
In the chapter, Sadria outlines the factors and processes preventing potential reconciliation within society, considering that any serious desire for reconciliation requires those concerned to take into consideration a range of perspectives. The chapter uses analytical and theoretical references in order to help readers to grasp the nature and processes of the emergence of these obstacles within and across societies.
In conclusion, Sadria raises the notion of alternative possibilities based on ethical concerns for living together, both within society as well as globally, in order to open new perspectives on reconciliation.
Pathways to Reconciliation was published with the support of the Monash Centre for the Study of Global Movements, Monash University and edited by Philipa Rothfield (La Trobe University, Australia), Cleo Fleming (Monash University, Australia) and Paul A. Komesaroff (Monash University, Australia). The Centre's work supports a range of research and generates discussion and advice on matters relevant to the study of global movements.
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Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations