Around the world, people are talking about recovery from the pandemic. How do we push beyond recovery to repair major fault lines and build an equitable future for all?
We’ve asked our network of pluralism champions around the world about what #BeyondRecovery​​ means in their communities. Here’s what Meredith Preston McGhie, Secretary General of the Global Centre for Pluralism had to say.
To be or not to be ... included. Have you ever thought about how it makes you feel?
The words "pluralism" and "inclusion" are on the agenda. Mawlana Hazar Imam considers this theme so fundamental for society, that it created an institution totally dedicated to pluralism. But why?
During his visit to Portugal, on the occasion of the Golden Jubilee celebrations, Mawlana Hazar Imam spoke to the members of the Portuguese Parliament. When talking about global change and growth he said:
“What will these new realities mean to us? On the one hand, we have to realistically recognize that our interconnected world can cause a growing feeling of distrust, fear and perhaps even disorientation, when looking to the future. Unfortunately, different peoples can sometimes interpret their differences as threats and not as opportunities, defining their own identity by what they reject and not by what they defend ”.
When you think of Pluralism and Cultural Diversity, what comes to mind? Do you feel them as a threat or an opportunity?
When someone introduces himself, is the person identified by what he defends or what he rejects?
Mawlana Hazar Imam also said on that occasion:
“… On the other hand, greater closeness to interactions in our world will also produce new and wonderful opportunities for creative cooperation, healthy interdependence, new discoveries and inspiring growth. When that happens, the opportunity to get involved with people who are different from us does not have to be seen as a burden, but as a blessing ... ”.
How can the difference be a blessing? Can we learn from someone who is different from us? Can we become more empathetic and open when we know "the other" and allow ourselves to make it known? Do we become stronger when we expand our circle and embrace new cultures?
These issues, and many others, will be addressed in the week of Pluralism and Cultural Diversity, from 21st to 28th of May.
Throughout the week, you will be able to hear testimonies in the first person, get to know a little more about the different cultures that we have within our Jamat, and you will also be able to count on two essential programs, which will be shown on Ismaili TV, with special guests. !
This year’s Annual Pluralism Lecture, presented by the Global Centre for Pluralism in partnership with the University of British Columbia, will be livestreamed on 19 May, and will feature opening remarks by Princess Zahra Aga.
The 8th Annual Pluralism Lecture, entitled “The Moment of Encounter: History, Disruptions, and Transformations” will be delivered by Ethiopian-American novelist Maaza Mengiste from New York’s Center for Fiction.
Ms Mengiste will speak about her journey into historical research while writing her critically acclaimed novel, The Shadow King, which was a finalist for the 2020 Booker Prize. She will discuss the surprising and revelatory discoveries she made about collective memory and official archives, and what history can teach us about the future.
In her opening remarks, Princess Zahra, who is a Global Centre for Pluralism Board Member, will reflect on how the pandemic has created an urgency for conversations and actions centered on building respect, empathy, and a more equitable, just, and prosperous future for all.
Following the lecture, Ms Nahlah Ayed, host and producer of CBC Ideas, will engage in a conversation with Ms Mengiste to discuss some of the lecture’s themes.
The Global Centre for Pluralism is an independent, charitable organization founded by Mawlana Hazar Imam and the Government of Canada. The Centre works with policy leaders, educators, and community builders around the world to amplify and implement the transformative power of pluralism.
The lecture will be webcast live on The Ismaili TV on 19 May at 12 PM (Toronto), 5 PM (London), and 8 PM (Dubai), and will replay on The Ismaili TV in the days after the event.
Last edited by Admin on Wed May 19, 2021 4:31 pm, edited 1 time in total
The 2021 Global Centre for Pluralism's annual lecture entitled _"The Moment of Encounter: History, Disruptions, and Transformations"_ will be delivered in partnership with the University of British Columbia. Ethiopian novelist and 2020 Booker Prize finalist, *Maaza Mengiste* will deliver the the lecture on m *Wednesday, May 19* from New York’s Center for Fiction, followed by a conversation with Nahlah Ayed, host of CBC Radio’s Ideas.
In the lecture, Ms. Mengiste will talk about her journey into historical research while writing her critically acclaimed novel, _The Shadow King_. She will discuss the surprising and revelatory discoveries she made about collective memory and official archives, and what history can teach us about the future.
_*Princess Zahra*_, who is a Global Centre for Pluralism Board Member, will in her opening remarks, reflect on how the pandemic has created an urgency for conversations and actions centered on building respect, empathy, and a more equitable, just, and prosperous future for all.
Join the livestream on *Wednesday, May 19 at 12pm ET - Toronto time* by clicking here - Connect to the livestream on May 19 at 12 PM ET here:
Ethiopian-American novelist Maaza Mengiste delivered the Global Centre for Pluralism’s eighth Annual Pluralism Lecture today, 19 May, following opening remarks by Princess Zahra. The lecture, entitled “The Moment of Encounter: History, Disruptions, and Transformations” was held virtually, in partnership with the University of British Columbia.
In her opening address, Global Centre for Pluralism (GCP) board member Princess Zahra reflected on how the Covid-19 pandemic has created an urgency for conversations and actions centered on building respect, empathy, and a more equitable, just, and prosperous future for all.
“The pandemic, and the inequalities that it has magnified, are a stark reminder of the urgency with which we must come together across our differences to build a more inclusive society,” Princess Zahra said.
“Engaging with one another to build mutual understanding and appreciation across our differences – the kind of dialogue which is at the heart of pluralism – must continue. There are important lessons to be learned from the past year as the pandemic has transformed our societies and our institutions. Our ability to work remotely has shown new approaches to reducing our climate footprint and, for example, brought education to remote communities. These and other positive outcomes have the potential to strengthen our ambition for greater equity in and across our societies.”
The GCP’s annual lecture series features leaders in pluralism, who are making a difference in their chosen fields. Maaza Mengiste is a critically acclaimed novelist and essayist whose work examines the individual lives at stake during migration, war, and exile. Her award-winning novels include Beneath the Lion’s Gaze and The Shadow King.
While introducing Ms Mengiste, Princess Zahra acknowledged the writer’s ability to bridge divides by writing about the struggles and lives of individuals and communities.
“How we talk about history — at school, at home, and through literature — is a powerful part of how we create a sense of belonging and shared destiny as a society. Ms Mengiste’s work reminds us of the hidden stories and voices that we must seek to amplify,” Princess Zahra said.
“Her writing considers how historical narratives and collective memory are shaped over time. History and memory are central to pluralism. We see this in many countries where education is critical to building a pluralistic society.”
Meredith Preston McGhie, Secretary General of the Global Centre for Pluralism, gave additional opening remarks that reemphasized the link between Ms Mengiste’s lecture and the Centre’s mandate.
“The work we do at the Centre focuses on these actions and decisions needed to advance both better structural and cultural responses to diversity,” Ms Preston McGhie said. “This Annual Pluralism Lecture is one such initiative. It provides us an opportunity to learn from distinguished speakers like Ms Mengiste, whose writing tackles issues at the very heart of pluralism — collective memory, historical narratives, belonging, and identity."
Ms Mengiste’s lecture began with the story of a photograph: two men standing side by side, inches apart from one another. One is East African, off to the side, wearing old and torn clothing on his slender frame, shoeless. The other is Italian, centred in the photo with a relaxed expression on his face and well-fitting clothes adorning his powerfully-built frame. Ms Mengiste said she spent many hours examining this photo, sensing that it was trying to tell her something.
She described Benito Mussolini’s fascist intention to colonise Ethiopia in 1935, joining other European colonial powers staking a claim on the African continent, and the propaganda effort involved.
“One of the first steps towards invasion and war involved photographs, a visual narrative to establish a definition of Ethiopians as uncivilized, backwards in every sense, and lacking in all imaginative capacities,” Ms Mengiste said. “The photographs sent back to Italy through the press portrayed the stark differences between East Africans and Italians. Those pictures highlighted the exotic and unusual — the seemingly unbridgeable gaps that existed between two vastly dissimilar groups of people. By the time the invasion happened and war broke out, it was clear to Italians that Ethiopia needed the benevolent hand of Italy. This would be a civilizing mission.”
Before engaging in a conversation with Nahlah Ayed, host and producer of CBC Ideas to discuss some of the lecture’s themes, Ms Mengiste went on to recount the Italian invasion of Ethiopia, offering it as an example of what history can teach us about the future. As an example of the relationship between visible and hidden, power and subjugation, men and women. Between west and east, caucasian and African, known and unknown.
“We have been taught for so long that an answer must always follow a question — that if we cannot point to a resolution then we have failed. But what if, in that space between knowing and confusion, is an entire landscape where something else beyond answers but equally vital exists?” Ms Mengiste asked, hinting at the steps towards tangible progress.
“What if, cradled within each moment of encounter, is a force that can lead us towards real transformation? What if to be disturbed is just one step towards that journey? What if every step forward takes us not into the territory of comfort and certainty, but towards new disruptions and greater leaps?”
In his closing remarks, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of British Columbia Santa Ono concluded by acknowledging that understanding our shared history can “advance or erode efforts at building thriving societies that value diversity. An inclusive approach to history is, therefore, integral to pluralism.”
“An important application of striving for a better world is to unpack and carefully consider the difficult, sometimes painful, lessons from our past. By learning from those mistakes, and addressing them with tangible solutions that can benefit all, we can move forward towards more pluralistic societies, together,” Mr Ono said. “Thank you, Maaza Mengiste, for giving us the opportunity to hear your boundless wisdom today and leaving us with plenty to discuss.”
Global Centre for Pluralism’s Annual Lecture delivered by Ethiopian Novelist Maaza Mengiste
Ottawa, Canada, 19 May 2021 – Award-winning author of The Shadow King, Maaza Mengiste, delivered the 8th Annual Pluralism Lecture today. Maaza Mengiste is a critically acclaimed novelist and essayist whose work examines the individual lives at stake during migration, war, and exile. She was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and lived in Nigeria and Kenya before moving to the United States. Mengiste’s debut novel, Beneath the Lion’s Gaze (2010), was named one of The Guardian’s Ten Best Contemporary African Books. Her latest novel, The Shadow King (2019), was called “one of the most beautiful novels of the year” by National Public Radio. It was a Booker Prize finalist in 2020.
Meredith Preston McGhie, Secretary General of the Global Centre for Pluralism, remarked, “We are thrilled to have Maaza Mengiste deliver this year’s Annual Pluralism Lecture. Her writing tackles issues at the very heart of pluralism – collective memory, historical narratives and identity — and offers us the opportunity to learn about how to build and strengthen societies where everyone belongs .... This is so critically important. Literature can help us see past the polarisation and politicisation of these issues, to bring us to a more constructive place.”
The Annual Pluralism Lecture series presents an opportunity to learn from extraordinary individuals whose work exemplifies pluralism in action. Past lecturers have included South African freedom fighter Justice Albie Sachs; then Chief Justice of Canada Beverley McLachlin; and current UN Secretary-General António Guterres, among others.
Princess Zahra Aga Khan, a board member of the Global Centre for Pluralism, introduced the lecture. “The pandemic, and the inequalities it has surfaced, are a stark reminder of the urgency with which we must come together across our differences to build a more inclusive recovery,” she said. “We see the emotional and social toll that conflict can take, mirrored today in so many societies, from Syria and Yemen to Myanmar.”
Dr. Santa J. Ono, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of British Columbia, said, “In striving for a better world, it is essential to unpack and carefully consider the difficult, sometimes painful, lessons from our past. By learning from those mistakes, and addressing them with tangible solutions that benefit all, we can move forward towards more pluralistic societies, together.”
Join the Global Centre for Pluralism and the University of British Columbia for a livestream of the 2021 Annual Pluralism Lecture.
Ethiopian novelist and 2020 Booker Prize finalist, Maaza Mengiste, will deliver the 8th Annual Pluralism Lecture, “The Moment of Encounter: History, Disruptions, and Transformations” on May 19, 2021 from New York’s Center for Fiction, followed by a conversation with Nahlah Ayed, host of CBC Radio’s Ideas.
Maaza Mengiste will talk about her journey into historical research while writing her critically acclaimed novel, The Shadow King. She will discuss the surprising and revelatory discoveries she made about collective memory and official archives, and what history can teach us about the future.
Born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Maaza Mengiste is a critically acclaimed novelist and essayist whose work examines the individual lives at stake during migration, war, and exile. Mengiste’s debut novel, Beneath the Lion’s Gaze (2010), was named one of The Guardian’s Ten Best Contemporary African Books. Her latest novel, The Shadow King (2019), was called “one of the most beautiful novels of the year” by NPR and was a 2020 Booker Prize finalist. The winner of the 2020 Literature Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Mengiste’s honours include the Creative Capital Award, a Fulbright Scholarship, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and Puterbaugh Festival of International Literature & Culture.
Maaza Mengiste will also be discussing her book, The Shadow King at a #UBCConnects Masterclass on May 18, 2021. For more information and to register, visit: events.ubc.ca/maaza-mengiste/
Joignez-vous au Centre mondial du pluralisme et à l’Université de la Colombie-Britannique lors de la diffusion en direct de la Conférence annuelle sur le pluralisme 2021.
La romancière éthiopienne et finaliste du Booker Prize 2020, Maaza Mengiste, prononcera la 8e Conférence annuelle sur le pluralisme intitulée « Le moment de la rencontre : histoire, perturbations et transformations » le 19 mai 2021 en direct du Center for Fiction de New York. Elle s’entretiendra ensuite avec Nahlah Ayed, animatrice de l’émission Ideas, sur CBC Radio.
Maaza Mengiste parlera du parcours de recherche historique qu’elle a entrepris pour son roman acclamé par la critique, The Shadow King. Elle abordera les découvertes surprenantes et révélatrices qu’elle a faites sur la mémoire collective et les archives officielles, et ce que l’histoire peut nous enseigner sur l’avenir.
Née à Addis-Abeba, en Éthiopie, Maaza Mengiste est une romancière et essayiste acclamée par la critique. Son travail se penche sur les vies individuelles en jeu lors de migrations, de guerres et d’exils. Le premier roman de Mengiste, Sous le regard du lion (2010), fait partie des dix meilleurs livres africains contemporains selon The Guardian. Son plus récent roman, The Shadow King (2019), est considéré comme « un des plus beaux romans de l’année » par NPR et a figuré en finale du Booker Prize en 2020. Lauréate du Prix littéraire de l’Académie américaine des arts et des lettres, les Prix et distinctions de Mengiste comprennent notamment le Creative Capital Award, une bourse Fulbright et des bourses de recherche du National Endowment for the Arts et du Puterbaugh Festival of International Literature & Culture.
Événement connexe :
Maaza Mengiste parlera de son livre The Shadow King à la classe de maître #UBCConnects le 18 mai 2021. Pour de plus amples informations à ce sujet, visitez le www.events.ubc.ca/maaza-mengiste/.
The attack in London did not occur in a vacuum. It is a reflection of my city – and of Canada
They were killed within walking distance of where I live. A Muslim family, out for an evening stroll.
I walk the same path they took, pray at the mosque where they prayed and even attended the same high school as the daughter. These faces I have seen as I grew up in this community – gone.
Heartbroken? Yes. Shocked? No.
London is my home. But hate, racism and Islamophobia have a deep history here. The Ku Klux Klan established a presence in London in 1872, sowing their hate within the fabric of our city. Fast forward to 2017, when an anti-Islam protest was initiated in this city by the Patriots of Canada Against the Islamization of the West (PEGIDA); roughly 40 members and supporters attended. London has been and still is a hot spot for right-wing extremism, Islamophobia and white supremacist activity.
Growing up in northwest London, my family was one of the few visible Muslims in our neighbourhood. Our home and car were targeted and vandalized monthly. Each time we would just wash off the yolk and clear away the shells, but the stench and fear remained. My parents were always putting on a brave face for their children, playing it down by telling us that it must just be some mischievous kids on the block. After reporting this to the police a few times we gave up, as nothing came of it. But I knew it worried them. They never wanted me to travel alone, especially at night. We had conversations about how the way I looked made me a target, how I needed to be more careful than other kids.
Years before Yumna Afzaal walked the halls of Oakridge Secondary School, my friends and I faced severe opposition from parents – and even some staff – who didn’t want us to create a safe space for Muslim students to practise their faith. This is my London, my Canada.
If we deny that we have a problem, then we will never address the root cause. This is not a lone attack or an incident that occurred in a vacuum. It is a reflection of our city and our country as a whole. Nor are Islamophobia, Indigenous rights, anti-Black racism and antisemitism separate problems. They are all a part of structures created from a colonial past. One that has benefitted from divide-and-conquer policies and depended on “othering” those who are different.
If Canada calls itself a mosaic, then that mosaic is under attack by those who want to destroy it with our blood.
Yet, there is always hope. Thousands attended the vigil at the London Muslim Mosque on Tuesday. People from all walks of life came out to show solidarity to the Muslim community – strangers assuring us, “we are with you, you are loved.”
Just as it took the support of one teacher to stand up as an ally and support the Muslim students at Oakridge Secondary School when I attended all those years ago, what this community needs right now is you. Every Londoner, every Canadian, needs to be an ally. Stand up against the overt aggression but also, perhaps more importantly, against the microaggressions and other forms of racism you have ignored for far too long in your daily lives. Do you speak or act differently when the person looks different than you? Do you politely ignore the racist, Islamophobic, antisemitic, anti-Asian or anti-Indigenous comments you hear from your colleagues, your extended family, your political party? Letting those seemingly big and little things go has brought us here, to this.
I have to commend Jeff Bennett, a former Progressive Conservative Party candidate for London West, for calling it out as it is. “We must take stock of the part we play,” he wrote in a widely shared Facebook post. “No more saying, ‘Oh grandpa is not really racist. He was just raised differently.’ Well that ‘differently’ is not okay. Canada has a racist, unacceptable history. It’s time we call it out, own it and take action.”
Every Indigenous issue is our issue. Every anti-Asian hate crime, every Islamophobic attack, should be seen as a crime against all of us. Every Black life lost senselessly is interconnected. Our colonial past is still affecting us in our everyday lives, making it easier for some to live, while others continue to suffer.
I hope my neighbours in London choose to stand up in solidarity and take action. I hope you all do.
Have We Reshaped Middle East Politics or Started to Mimic It?
One day, 1,000 years from now, when they dig up this era, archaeologists will surely ask how was it that a great power called America set out to make the Middle East more like itself — embracing pluralism and the rule of law — and ended up instead becoming more like the Middle East — mimicking its worst tribal mores and introducing a whole new level of lawlessness into its national politics?
Middle Easterners may call their big tribes “Shiites” and “Sunnis” and Americans may call theirs “Democrats” and “Republicans,” but they each seem to operate increasingly with a conformist, us-vs.-them mind-set, albeit at different intensity levels. Extreme Republican tribalism vastly accelerated as the G.O.P. tribe became dominated by a base of largely white Christians, who feared that their long-held primacy in America’s power structure was being eroded by rapidly changing social norms, expanded immigration and globalization, leaving them feeling no longer “at home” in their own country.
To signal that, they latched on to Donald Trump, who enthusiastically gave voice to their darkest fears and raw tribal muscle that escalated the right’s pursuit of minority rule. That is, not just pushing the usual gerrymandering but also propagating conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, passing ever-harsher voter suppression laws and replacing neutral state voting regulators with tribal hacks ready to break the rules. And because this Trump faction came to dominate the base, even once-principled Republicans mostly went along for the ride, embracing the core philosophy that dominates tribal politics in Afghanistan and the Arab world: The “other” is the enemy, not a fellow citizen, and the only two choices are “rule or die.” Either we rule or we delegitimize the results.
Mind you, the archaeologists will also note that Democrats exhibited their own kind of tribal mania, such as the strident groupthink of progressives at 21st-century American universities. In particular, there was evidence of professors, administrators and students being “canceled” — either silenced or thrown off campus for expressing even mildly nonconformist or conservative views on politics, race, gender or sexual identity. An epidemic of tribal political correctness from the left served only to energize the tribal solidarity on the right.
But what triggered the turn from traditional pluralism to ferocious tribalism in the U.S. and many other democracies? My short answer: It’s become a lot harder to maintain democracy today, with social networks constantly polarizing people, and with globalization, climate change, a war on terrorism, widening income gaps and rapid job-shifting technology innovations constantly stressing them. And then a pandemic.
More than a few democratically elected leaders around the world now find it much easier to build support with tribal appeals focused on identity than do the hard work of coalition-building and compromise in pluralistic societies at a complex time.
When that happens, everything gets turned into a tribal identity marker — mask-wearing in the pandemic, Covid-19 vaccinations, gender pronouns, climate change. Your position on each point doubles as a challenge to others: Are you in my tribe or not? So there is less focus on the common good, and ultimately no common ground to pivot off to do big hard things. We once put a man on the moon together. Today, we can barely agree on fixing broken bridges.
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