July 11, 2018

The Department of Educational Studies presents:

Learning to Live Together – For What and With Whom?
Critical Reflections of a Muslim Liberation Theologian

Seminar with Dr. Farid Esack, EDST Noted Summer Scholar
Wednesday, July 11th | 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. | PCOH 2012


Abstract: Liberal societies which value multi-culturalism, the elimination of conflict and the enhancement of harmony as among the most important learning objectives. This presentation critically reflects on the elevation of these educational objectives from a liberation theology perspective. The discourse of liberation theology, like decoloniality, consciously seeks to the privilege the marginalized which has a necessarily corollary the disturbance of current power relations – something which multi-culturalism seeks to ignore. I consider the following questions; a) What is the purpose of living together, and is this really an ‘obvious virtue’? b) Who do we choose as the ‘other’ to live alongside, and is there not a problem with the underlying assumption that the ‘other’ is always external to the ‘self’? c) Third, how do we confront the problem of learning to live together when so many have not gone beyond the imperatives of physical survival due to, say, the limited availability and unfair distribution of jobs, land food and water, or due to the presence of either internal or external forces – possibly even the dominant ones that continues to thrive on the systematic annihilation of an entire people – even as they seek to live in harmony with the other in its ever-diminishing form? (“I want to live with you ‘in harmony’ as long as this has no ‘loss implications for my sense of self and the accompanying privileges or comfort and the power that sustains these.)


Bio: Professor Farid Esack  is a South African Muslim Theologian who cut his teeth in the South African struggle for liberation. He studied in Pakistan, the UK and Germany and is the author of, amongst others, Qur’an, Liberation and Pluralism, On Being a Muslim, An Introduction to the Qur’an, and Islam, HIV & AIDS – Between Scorn Pity & Justice. He has published on Islam, Gender, Liberation Theology, Interfaith Relations, and Qur’anic Hermeneutics. Professor Esack served as Commissioner for Gender Equality in South African and has taught at a number of universities across the globe. Before moving to the University of Johannesburg where he is Professor in the Study of Islam, he served as Professor of Contemporary Islam at Harvard University. He is the President Emeritus of the International Qur’anic Studies Association, Chairperson of Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS-SA) and was recently presented with the Order of Luthuli (Sliver), South Africa’s highest national award for “his brilliant contribution to academic research and to the fight against race, gender, class and religious oppression”. He is currently Visiting Professor in the Department of Educational Studies at the University of British Columbia.