Blind Obedience: Postcolonialism, Disability, and Democracy

By Hala Ghoneim.

Published by The International Journal of Literary Humanities

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: January 16, 2015 $US5.00

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

The International Journal of Literary Humanities, Volume 13, Issue 1, March 2015, pp.1-10. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: January 16, 2015 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 573.841KB)).

Dr. Hala Ghoneim

Assistant Professor, Department of Languages and Literatures, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, Whitewater, Wisconsin, USA

I am a native of Egypt. I received my Ph.D. from the Department of African Languages and Literatures at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I am Assistant Professor of Arabic in the Department of Languages and Literatures at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. I earned my M.A. degree in African languages and literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and my B.A. degree in English literature and translation from the University of Ain Shams, Cairo, Egypt. My areas of specialization are Arabic and Anglophone African Literature, Postcolonial theory, modernism, Arabic language, Literary theory, and Islam.