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Blind Obedience: Postcolonialism, Disability, and Democracy


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1 Department of Languages and Literatures Assistant Professor, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, Wisconsin, United States
     

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The first section of this paper investigates some theoretical ramifications of the tempting but problematic interactions between postcolonial and disability studies. It presents and evaluates views by several critics who applaud or caution against cross-fertilizations between the two fields of study. It concludes that despite the validity of the critiques of such interactions, the two fields are closely connected, and each can illuminate some of the blind spots of the other. A postcolonialist perspective can curb the false universalism of disability studies, and the latter can help postcolonial studies embrace its other others. The second section of the paper uses the framework developed in the first section in reading Egyptian playwright Lenin al-Ramli's "A Point of View." The reading examines and problematizes al-Ramli's use of the blindness metaphor to represent the illiterate masses. Although the metaphor successfully conveys al-Ramli's message of empowerment (the blind take over the management of the charitable institution that abuses them), it unknowingly reinforces colonialist and elitist views of democracy as the burden of the enlightened. The educated speak for the illiterate, who are deemed unprepared for democracy, although the two groups do not share similar pursuits or ideological orientations.

Keywords

Postcolonialism, Disability, Democracy, Representation, Metaphor.
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  • Blind Obedience: Postcolonialism, Disability, and Democracy

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Authors

Hala Ghoneim
Department of Languages and Literatures Assistant Professor, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, Wisconsin, United States

Abstract


The first section of this paper investigates some theoretical ramifications of the tempting but problematic interactions between postcolonial and disability studies. It presents and evaluates views by several critics who applaud or caution against cross-fertilizations between the two fields of study. It concludes that despite the validity of the critiques of such interactions, the two fields are closely connected, and each can illuminate some of the blind spots of the other. A postcolonialist perspective can curb the false universalism of disability studies, and the latter can help postcolonial studies embrace its other others. The second section of the paper uses the framework developed in the first section in reading Egyptian playwright Lenin al-Ramli's "A Point of View." The reading examines and problematizes al-Ramli's use of the blindness metaphor to represent the illiterate masses. Although the metaphor successfully conveys al-Ramli's message of empowerment (the blind take over the management of the charitable institution that abuses them), it unknowingly reinforces colonialist and elitist views of democracy as the burden of the enlightened. The educated speak for the illiterate, who are deemed unprepared for democracy, although the two groups do not share similar pursuits or ideological orientations.

Keywords


Postcolonialism, Disability, Democracy, Representation, Metaphor.