Wednesday, April 30, 2014

News from our India-based Network Member Asha Mukherjee!

We are thrilled to share with you an update from Asha Mukherjee of the Department of Philosophy, Visva-Bharati, Shantiniketan, West Bengal, India - a Founding University Partner of our UNESCO/UNITWIN. Most recently, Asha participated on a panel entitled "Women Philosophers and the Enrichment of Philosophy" at the 23rd World Congress of Philosophy at the University of Athens. The following is an abstract of the paper "Feminist Concern in India and the "Other"" which Asha presented as part of the panel.

Asha Mukherjee (at right) pauses for a picture with other panel participants at the
23rd World Congress of Philosophy at the University of Athens 
"At the core of the Women's Rights movement debate, there lies a need to interrogate the very being of individual person, self, and "other" for accommodating the claims and the counter claims of rights to be creatively human, the promise of mankind which gets threatened by any destructive self of the few in power either political or social or economic or religious. The history of the world has witnessed such threats again and again. Women's rights discourse is meaningful only in the context of the "other" which presupposed that there is self and the 'other' which is also a self (basically) and the self must relate to the other self. If the self is relating to the other, then only social relationship becomes meaningful. The question is how to relate with the other. The relation with the other could be cohesive, peaceful, cooperative, and dutiful or it could be antagonistic, demanding, claiming, counter-claiming. In society, the other as co-human exists (whether we like it or not) whose existence is a requirement of my existence in the society. What kind of requirement is it? Is it just a social need or is it deeper than that? These are important questions which I would discuss in the paper. But the "other" can exist as human - a dignified person and demands reciprocity on the part of every individual - as Kant would say 'Treat Humanity as an end and never as a means only' (Foundations of Metaphysics of Morals). It is the inter subjectivity, the relation with "other" which is the cornerstone that makes my world and society meaningful even from an Indian feminist perspective. Questions of identity of the women and identity of men, the nature of discrimination with respect to gender and related questions would be dealt with in depth and finally if there is no discrimination of gender, does feminism make any sense would be discussed." 

Attendees of the "Women Philosophers and the Enrichment of Philosophy" panel
In addition to her involvement with the 23rd World Congress of Philosophy (August 4-10, 2013), Asha recently presented her paper "Religion as a Separate Area of Study in India" at a workshop entitled "Whose Religion? Education about Religion in Public Schools". The workshop was held at the University of Ottawa in November 2013. While in Canada, Asha also gave two talks on "Social Justice in India: A Gender Perspective". Asha was also the Founding Director of the Women's Studies Centre, Visva-Bharati. We're excited to read about and share the important work that our UNITWIN colleague Asha has been doing around the globe!