Global South perspectives on social justice
Simaan, J. and Shoba, N. 2019. Global South perspectives on social justice.
|Authors||Simaan, J. and Shoba, N.|
This paper draws on two studies that utilised an occupational science lens in understanding daily-life issues for Global South communities. International communities are experiencing fragmentation due to oppressive and unjust policies at home, or forced migration to safer and more just contexts.
Studying the communal daily experiences of groups struggling against social injustice has become a key theme within occupational science, which is attempting to become a more inclusive and relevant field of study, by moving beyond the individual as a unit of study to focus on communal everyday experiences, including groups in the Global South. Boaventura de Sousa Santos described an ‘Epistemology of the South’ – a movement of thought and praxis from communities in the Global South who were struggling against socio-political phenomena related to colonialism, patriarchy, and globalised neoliberal capitalism. This movement is based on the need to learn from how communities resist such oppression in their daily lives to create social justice and ‘cognitive justice’ that would enable scholarly work to move beyond what Edward Said termed the ‘Epistemology of Imperialism’ – resulting from ignoring, or ‘othering’/’essentialising’, the experiences of marginalised groups in the process of knowledge production. Two processes are needed: ‘inter-cultural translation’ – the comparing and contrasting of ideas and practices of different communities; and the ‘ecologies of knowledge’, which involves stepping back from Eurocentric traditions to allow other analytical spaces that can explain reality to be involved in producing appropriate knowledge and theories that will contribute to social justice (Santos, 2014).
The first study is a de-colonial ethnography in which the researcher’s “ability to shuttle between contrasting worlds of experience” was pivotal in researching olive growing as a daily form of resistance in Palestine (Zureik, 2014: 20). What emerged was a group of daily practices that were founded on historical, socio-political, cultural and spiritual principles. Olive growers in Palestine were observed to experience ‘occupational injustice’, or more specifically ‘occupational apartheid’, that is a particular form of social injustice based on restrictions on their daily lives imposed because of who they were (their belonging to Palestinian communities). Yet, rather than passively accept this situation, and despite all odds, they have continued this ancient, highly meaningful, and communal activity. This resilience was enabled by their need to survive and be dignified (Sutra/doing-being), to express solidarity and collaboration (‘Awna/belonging) and to aspire for a better shared future (Sumud/belonging-becoming) – and by their insistence upon meeting these collective needs.
The second study addresses what is considered an increasingly prevalent social issue - the burden of older immigrants on host societies (Angel, 2003). This grounded theory study explored how Indian, Chinese and Korean older migrants to New Zealand sought to engage in everyday occupations, such as gardening, singing and caring for grandchildren, and thereby make valued contributions to their new community. Using an occupational science lens to critically examine the data revealed that these older immigrants were conscious of what New Zealand had to offer them and were determined not to take these opportunities for granted. Rather, through a social process of ‘strengthening community’, these elders worked to actively give back to their new homeland. However, coming to this understanding required further developing grounded theory methodology to encompass ‘inter-cultural translations’, as well as advance ‘ecologies of knowledge’.
A willingness to employ new methods and ways of researching what may be framed as social problems from Global South perspectives is critical if we are to advance global understandings of the contributions that marginalised groups within society have to offer.
|Conference||The Society for the Study of Social Problems' Annual Meeting|
Angel, J. L. (2003). Devolution and the social welfare of elderly immigrants: Who will bear the burden? Public Administration Review, 63(1), 79-89. Found at: https://doi.org/10.1111/1540-6210.00266
|Publication process dates|
|Deposited||12 Feb 2019|
|Accepted||12 Feb 2019|
|Accepted author manuscript|
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