Pedagogy For The Middle East Cultural Studies Essay

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The United Nations claim that nearly 6,000 civilians were slain across Iraq in May and June, a hysteric spike in deaths that coincided with rising sectarian attacks across the country. The report from the U.N. Assistance Mission in Iraq describes a wave of lawlessness and crime, including assassinations, bombings, kidnappings, torture and intimidation. Hundreds of teachers, judges, religious leaders and doctors are being targeted for death, and thousands of people have fled. The death toll of Iraqi civilians in October was 3,709, the highest monthly total yet, and torture continued to be rampant in the country, the situation for women continued to deteriorate, with increasing numbers either fatalities of religious extremists or victims of "honor killings".

A month ago, the Israeli military decided to triple its ongoing campaign of extermination, starting with border towns like Bint Hanoun, located on the northern edge of the Gaza strip. On Wednesday (Nov 1, 2006) Israeli jets blasted Bint Hanoun with missiles, killing 22 Palestinians and wounding many more. On Thursday, Israeli troops and tanks moved to continue the slaughter on the ground. By Friday, morning 32 Palestinian men took refuge in a mosque. About 50 Palestinian women went to help them, hoping the Israelis would not shoot, but they did. A tank opened up with a machine gun. Eleven of the women were shot, two of them to death.

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In the meantime, Lebanon is desperately fighting for survival as the clock ticks toward yet another civil war of destruction and blood shed. As Lebanese, we are expecting with great fear more Qanas, more dead babies, hundreds of thousands of people scattered, displaced and dehumanized.

With the re-colonization of the Middle East just beginning, history is repeating itself and it is not pretty!

In this paper, I indulge myself in contemplating a daring vision to concert and mobilize a revolutionary pedagogy for the Middle East. From a glimpse of what has become of modern Western states in the light of a changing world system today, I open an aperture for a pedagogy of emergence that will lead to transformation and liberation.

Yet, one truth still prevails namely that for the mere cause of expanding capitalist system to control and dominate more markets, so many crimes against environment, culture and humanity as a whole has been and are still committed. Genocide, mass assassination of whole communities, ecocide, wiping out of ecological environments and ethnocide the destruction of people's culture by obliterating their language and altering their beliefs and religion are all legitimate in the cause of profit accumulation and capitalist expansion. In the name of globalization, we are still witnessing countries being sacrificed at the altar of international trade expansion, financial flows and foreign investment by transnational corporations and banks. A hierarchy of center-periphery complexes within the world system, in which surplus is being transferred between zones of the hierarchy, continue to confirm the existence of some form of an "international" division of labor. The main center-periphery division in the world between the rich North/West and the poor South/East that persisted for a long time, is growing deeper and deeper.

Nevertheless, the monster, by destroying others, has in turn inflicted harm on itself and is eventually heading towards its own destruction. The contributions of Western democracies to the awakening calls for change around the world have been indirect and certainly unintended. It has rekindled an enthusiasm of resentment which is arousing societies that have been long marginalized from its stagnation and oppression for centuries. I would like to extrapolate to illustrate the state of affair which modern Western states are witnessing today. There is a noticeable shift in how the basic functions of modern Western states have been conceived. Modern Western states, no longer have full control over their boundaries, with the latter being extremely porous allowing diffusion of resources and mobility of people in and out of the state. Modern Western states are losing track of their population as a result of immigration and migration, a considerable rate of which are illegal. With privatization, the authority and agency of modern states to regulate its economy and financial operations and monitor their educational systems is diminishing. Above all, with the transnational diffusion of many cultures to the host society, Western modern states no longer control nor manage the symbolism of their nations, or those forms or symbols of collective identity that people within the state practice and share. Instead, the identity of a modern Western state is being transformed into a mosaic of several social symbols that come together in a random, rather erratic pattern.

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As a result of imperialistic expansion, the relationship between culture and capitalism or culture and the World system is not heading in any predictable direction. It is in a continuous and permanent state of change that has no foreseeable future or end and is not a mere reduction or elimination of differences. The problems created by cultural differences within Western societies will perhaps not disappear but are rather permanent. This, in turn, is making the conception of culture a rather tricky and complicated notion. In the traditional notion, culture is said to be shared within bounded, clearly defined small-scale communities. Nowadays people, as is the case of most refugees all over the world, share not only their symbols but other several symbols that coexist within the milieu of their "new" culture which are different and not easily comprehended. With the technological revolution in communication and transportation, global politics is now characterized by growing interdependence, the spread of transnationalism, and by the appearance of new global issues within the economic, cultural and technical realm.

The implications of all this for pedagogy are tremendous. The current worldwide picture of the world in which individuals have to live in is that of a world filled with all kinds of conflicts. Before the attack of 11 September 2001 in the United States, conflict and its relevance for education could have been thought of as an issue of interest mainly to researchers in third world countries. The world order that is emerging after the experience of large-scale terrorism in the heart of western civilization, however, invites us to think carefully about the meaning and possibilities that an ethical, revolutionary pedagogy endeavour if we are interested in facing the challenges posed by the status quo of the world order.

But the main question remains: Where can the healing, from imperialism and its cruelties, start? What can we do to stop the genocide of indigenous peoples and the theft of their lands that provided the material foundation for Imperialistic empires? When can we reclaim our right to interpret and reinterpret our lives, our experiences, our worlds?

In a passionate search for an ethical pedagogy that helps in the purification of our hearts and souls from the assumptions, fears, suspicions, doubts, and norms that nurtured the enemy within us, I came across a fascinating idea that captivated my thoughts; it is the idea of Kenosis. Within the realm of biblical narrative and Christian theology, the principle of Kenosis or self-sacrificing love, represents a force, which is capable of inspiring humanity to reach ever higher. Kenotic mood is expressed through meekness, self-abasement, humility and "renunciation" in imitation of Christ. The underlying focus of Kenosis is the concept of "self-emptying" the meaning of "emptying" is metaphoric, suggesting voluntary humiliation.

I believe to overcome the enemy within us, and thus emerge as liberated and humanized beings, deconstructing our experiences is not enough. This enemy has been entrenched so deep within us that to empty ourselves from its debris we need to willingly and intentionally uproot it and cast it off. Freire (1970) insists that in our struggle toward human liberation, "the culture of silence" represents a major obstacle. Through its mechanisms, the oppressed participate in their own domination by internalizing views of oppressors and by not speaking or otherwise acting against those oppressive views. Emptying our deepest insecurities and anxieties from our futile, malignant past traditions is the first step towards humanization and self- transformation.

As such, we emerge with a hope that perhaps goes above and beyond being just realistic. At the heart of our revolutionary pedagogy is generous, Kenotic moral endeavour and an anti-individualistic "positive heuristic". To rebuild our spaces and retain our full humanity we do need to be armed with essential qualities such as audacity and a joy in defiance, an iron will, a contempt with the present , and an awareness and devotion to a collective communal cause . No more submission or power inequalities, no more stories of good guys preserving order by means of violence. The role of the teacher is to become a healer, to unmask fanatic pretensions of the dominating system, and to teach children that collective rejection and resistance to the status quo is not only possible but is necessary as well.

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There will always be within us a tendency to locate the shaping forces of our existence outside ourselves. We need to be aware that this tendency to look for all causes outside ourselves if it persists, it will hinder our efforts to change and eventually induce change in our world. Hope and faith in the future are perhaps the most powerful instruments through which a revolution for transformation and humanization can be won. Fear of the future is an opponent we need to defeat, for it is only through this fear that we cling to the present and resist our will to change.

As Third world countries, people in the Middle East who see their lives as spoiled and wasted, have fallen preys to the belief that we should crave for equality and security more than freedom. We are dragged to perceive freedom as a distant, nearly nonexisting hope, that neither our potentials nor impatience can afford. Thus, we are always preoccupied with the preservation of the present and we prize ourselves for obedience and submission. The passion for equality that has been nurtured in us, for living as everybody else is, is partly a passion for anonymity; no one can point us out nor measure us against others and expose our inferiority. Our contact with Western civilization has not only generated exploitation and domination but also weakened our tribal solidarity and communal life.

We should set our wild hopes and ambitious, breathtaking dreams loose to create our new worlds that are far beyond recognition. Attending to our innermost cravings for a new life should guide our ethical pedagogy of rebirth and a passionate struggle for emergence and collective self-emancipation not as isolated individuals but as collective people.

In our search for a revolutionary pedagogy, we should abolish the cocoon of frustration that we webbed ourselves in as misfits, as people who have not found their place in history and are relentlessly haunted by the fear that our best years are wasted before we reach reconciliation with ourselves and with others. In the realm of such pedagogy, we should truly believe that whatever we undertake becomes a passionate pursuit, never pause but hope that one day we will arrive. Never yearn for what we really do not want and what we can never have enough of , but always keep in mind that perhaps we run fastest and farthest when we run from ourselves and for ourselves.