Cultural globalization in the Balkans:
perspectives on morality, identity and social justice
Todd W. Waller
Loyola University Chicago
Theoretical perspectives on social justice education rely excessively on reason rooted in the Western Age of Enlightenment and tend to not take seriously enough the role of emotion in our moral lives. This author's experience has been that complex topics such as identity, morality, and social justice are often best understood following highly emotional and often painful sharing of feelings. Experiential learning techniques allow for emotions to be valued and encouraged in the classroom. In this essay the author argues for recognizing the importance of emotions in the learning process.
A conflict resolution workshop held in Serbia for a multi-ethnic group of college students who were raised in times of war, serves as the backdrop for this study. Examples from the workshop help to ground the theories of contemporary moral philosophers. John Rawls' theory of justice is described as a general starting point to help educators direct discussions about moral values. Alasdair MacIntyre's definition of the emotivist provides insights as to why individualistic values fail to serve the common good. Finally, Martha Nussbaum's capabilities approach is examined as an alternative model for teaching about moral values and justice. Teachings from these three authors help to inform how college students in the Balkans think and feel about morality. Recognizing that moral education spans a broad spectrum of ideas, this article specifically focuses on morality in the context of social justice education.
1. I have been facilitating seminars in the ex-Yugoslavia where college students struggle with issues of identity and ways of bringing about change in their home communities. Each summer forty students arrive from across Southeastern Europe and work together in teams at the Youth Organizing Institute for ten to forteen days on a civic project that they plan to implement upon returning to their home communities. The premise of the Johns Hopkins University sponsored Institute is that if one wants to be a serious change agent then it becomes critical to understand issues of ethnicity, identity and the strategies for social change within one's community vis-a-vis the global economic and political forces that are rapidly changing the region.
2. During a July 2005 session in Novi Sad, Serbia, led by a conflict resolution trainer from Belfast, a group of Serbs, Croats and Muslims rebelled against our process driven pedagogy. Towards the end of the two hour interactive and highly emotional workshop in which students had to struggle with difficult issues which included identity and justice related to war crimes - topics that we call the "mainstreams and margins" - a twenty year old Serbian student demanded, "our generation has moved beyond these problems of ethnic hatred and war, why do you keep insisting that we talk about issues that are no longer relevant to us?" We trainers found this to be most disturbing, an apparent denial of what we perceive as an urgent need for more work to be done on ethnic relations, justice and, ultimately, reconciliation. Not to mention the even greater disappointment we felt observing the inability of nearly all of the students to process and gain from the painful emotions that had surfaced during the workshop. It appeared that learning from these painful emotions and in turn developing solutions for a more peaceful and socially just future in the Balkans was intellectually and emotionally beyond these students' means. In sum, the raw emotions (for instance, anger, tears, sadness) which were palpable in the workshop were dismissed by the majority of participants as the group consensus was to look for rational arguments to heal the pain that remained only years after the wars had ended. Days later I received an email from a friend working for the Croatian government which contradicted the backlash we trainers encountered from these young activists who were disenchanted with the workshop focus on thinking about one's personal identity. The disturbing email I had received stated; "the region will soon unravel, all the hatreds are still here".
Defining social justice education
3. As conflict resolution educators leading the seminar, we operated from a pedagogical belief that emotions can provide valuable insight into solving problems which have not been resolved by rational modes of planning. In a similar line, Philosopher Martha Nussbaum also challenges the conventional emotional versus rational binary, asking us whether:
emotions [are] simply animal energies or impulses with no connection to our thoughts? Or are they rather suffused with intelligence and discernment, and thus a source of awareness and deep understanding? (in Vanden Eynde, 2005: 51).
4. As encountered in workshops across the Balkans, discussing identity - specifically one's ethnic heritage - remains divisive, yet in order for a more just society to emerge, these difficult questions must be discussed and argued to their end. In the field of conflict resolution training, the vast majority of consultants carry degrees from prominent Western Universities. However, they tend to be ill equipped in dealing with issues that normally surface in such workshops and classes. The teaching styles which faculty are trained to uphold present a pedagogy that operates from rational and linear constructs when teaching about identity, conflict resolution, gender equity, race relations and an entire range of topics relating to and exploring the issue of justice. Learning from the sins of the past, however, rarely follows a linear, logical and non-emotional path in a classroom setting. This author submits that reconciliation efforts will not be productive when students and professors live in their intellects and fail to engage in their emotional wisdom. It is here that we can gain from Nussbaum, who recognizes that teaching about morals must revolve around emotion:
we must be prepared to grapple with the messy material of grief and love, anger and fear, and in so doing to learn what role these tumultuous experiences play in our thinking about the good and the just (in Vanden Eynde, 2005: 51).
5. A new, more integrative model for teaching morals is needed; an approach that builds on contemporary theories of justice (such as that of John Rawls) and integrates emotional wisdom. Scottish philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre and the American professor of law Nussbaum are key figures in the recent surge of interest in virtue ethics, which identifies the central question of morality as having to do with how to live a life of quality. This approach differs from traditional strategies of teaching morality based on a pedagogical style anchored in traditional abstracted classroom discussions and debates about ethical topics such as homosexuality or abortion. What MacIntyre and Nussbaum both stress, in contrast to more traditional approaches, is that teaching about morals cannot occur in a vacuum. Similarly, eliciting emotions for emotion's sake is not what either this author or MacIntyre or Nussbaum are advocating. Simply allowing emotions to surface in a classroom setting can be dangerous unless these conversations are ultimately grounded in strategies for social change.
6. Moral values are grounded in one's perspectives on social and political issues and underneath these values often lie strong emotions. Thus, focusing on recognisable and concrete social justice issues is a logical starting point to begin to create a learning environment where moral values may be discussed. John Rawls offers one jumping off point for framing social justice arguments. Rawls, in his theory of social justice, sees the primary structure of society as built around issues of justice. The main idea of justice is that of fairness which he develops into the concept of a social contract:
Justice does not allow that the sacrifices imposed on a few are outweighed by the larger sum of advantages enjoyed by many. Therefore, in a just society the liberties of equal citizenship are taken as settled; the rights secured by justice are not subject to political bargaining or to the calculus of social interests (Rawls, 1999: 4).
The "basic rights" of Rawls' theory of justice include equal citizenship, basic liberties (such as freedom of thought and political liberty) and distributive justice, and are further understood as the key requirements needed in order for a society to be well structured. Nussbaum often refers to John Rawls' theory, stating that "it is probably the strongest theory of justice we currently have" (Nussbaum, 2003: 415).
7. In post war Balkans these "basic rights" and liberties are what all are seeking; a job that pays the bills, a home and schools which offer an objective account of history for children, to name a few. As Rawls submits, each person deserves the right to basic personal and political liberties. However, our group of Novi Sad trainers also acknowledges the constraining political realities of the region which deny equality and often work against justice. According to our students basic rights in the region continue to be controlled by the ruling elite who discriminate against Serbs, Croats and Muslims, depending on where one lives. For example in northern Bosnia Herzegovina:
in many municipalities, individuals alleged to have committed violations of international humanitarian law during the 1992-1995 war - mass murder, ethnic cleansing, and mass rape - remain in positions of power. They continue to work in the police force, hold public office, exercise power through the legal and illegal economy, or influence politics from behind the scenes (International Crisis Group, 2000: 1).
Clearly Rawls' concept of a social contract runs up against some difficult problems in regions of conflict such as the Balkans. Nonetheless, in hopes of moving our Novi Sad participants in the direction of creating strategies to solve problems in their home communities it is important that "basic rights" and liberties can be discussed and argued. Educators must accept, however, that these topics are likely to be emotionally charged so that when such emotions surface in the classroom they can be recognized, accepted and allowed as part of the learning process. In sum, facilitating conflict resolution seminars and teaching courses that focus on moral values might best begin with conversations related to basic rights, liberties and distributive justice.
8. A closer examination of John Rawls' social contract theory is needed however insofar as Rawls has made explicit that citizens in a well ordered society concerned about justice will exhibit rational and reasonable behaviors and traces his conception of the person to Kant. Nussbaum, in particular, scrutinizes Rawls. She argues that her "capabilities approach offers a less Kantian conception of the person" (Nussbaum, 2002: 418). It is here that Nussbaum's work on emotions, specifically her "capabilities approach" (to be described later in this article), is instructive and offers an alternative theory to Rawls's construct of justice.
9. Pedagogically speaking, though, at the Novi Sad Youth Organizing Institute, it is almost certain that in the process of unpacking Rawls' "basic rights," students would naturally have moved towards discussing the emotionally charged topics of identity, race, class, religion, gender and ethnicity that we trainers wanted to focus on. Despite this, it is important to note with Nussbaum that Rawls' theory of justice in the social contract would become problematic in the face of a focus on emotions as emotions represent a movement away from the rational and reasonable modes of problem solving. As facilitators, however, it is our role to assist the participants in processing their strong emotions and in turn applying the emotional wisdom that has been acquired to rational topics, or what Rawls refers to as basic liberties, such as jobs and housing.
10. The teaching methodology is spiral; intellectual analysis of topics, emotional processing of feelings that are unpacked, and then reapplying strategies for change to the intellectual social problems that anchor the class discussion. The key link, I maintain, is allowing for the emotional work to be fully present and not dismissed in the conflict resolution sessions and classes pertaining to moral topics. The emotional work is the material that we trainers love struggling with, as it is at the core of our belief in assisting those who are marginalized. In hindsight, when challenged by the Novi Sad participant who had asked, "why do you keep insisting that we talk about issues that are no longer relevant to us?", we trainers had placed the cart before the horse. By pushing seminars focusing on emotional issues first and basic rights second, we managed to actually shut down our young participants' interests in critical social justice topics. On the contrary, the facilitators would have had better results if we had first instructed the students to talk about the rational issues facing the region (i.e. unemployment, job discrimination). As a result of analyzing components of Rawls' social contract, if well facilitated, students would eventually move in the direction of discussing the difficult and often ignored complex emotional topics such as identity and reconciliation which can lead towards greater justice. This integrated teaching approach does not shy away from emotions while engaging students intellectually on issues of justice that are deemed critical for the future of their communities.
Macintyre's moral identity and Nussbaum's capabilities approach
11. An integral aspect of the work that the facilitators are doing in the Balkans is assisting young activists in working with their emotions; the premise being that in order to be a serious social change agent one will need to confront anger, aggression and hatred which are complex emotions yet realities in post war countries. Nussbaum's capabilities approach, starts from a conception of the person whose dignity does not derive from an idealized rationality. This perspective runs contrary to that of Rawls, where reason is of the highest value. Nussbaum reminds us that emotions shape the landscapes of our mental and social lives. The beauty of Nussbaum's capabilities approach (see Appendix A) is that emotional work is valued and not dismissed as irrational. Nonetheless, as she argues for reintegrating emotions into moral thinking she also recognizes that this is hard for most to accept. When speaking of emotions she states that "perhaps they have been discarded because they are unpredictable but nonetheless unavoidable aspects of our being" (in Vanden Eynde, 2005: 51).
12. We are living in an era in which many have emotionally disconnected from their history and their political past. Instructing classes that aim to teach moral values, however, specifically in regions of conflict such as the Balkans, requires an understanding and a willingness to confront the past. In the Balkans, the recent past and the current social and economic woes are intertwined. Survival during the war years often meant acquiring an expertise in smuggling items such as flour, cigarettes, sugar and arms. Subsequently, illegal markets have become almost institutionalized in the post war era:
according to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), about 50 percent of Bosnia's GDP is based on black-market commerce, which has become a key survival strategy. The greatest symbol of black market entrepreneurship is the so-called Arizona Market in Brko, a border town between the Bosnian Federation and the Republika Srpska. One can obtain everything from a fake Adidas tracksuit to Moldovan prostitutes to Afghan heroin (Skulrak, 1999: 13).
13. In the Balkans and elsewhere, discussions which draw on the sins of the past are emotionally charged and potentially volatile topics. MacIntyre speaks extensively to the role of the courageous one, the hero, the moral citizen. Using ancient Greece as an example, MacIntyre states that "courage is important, not simply as a quality of individuals, but as a quality necessary to sustain a household and a community" (1981: 122). In modern times, the repercussions of extended wars, such as those that swept across the Balkans in the 1990s, are that prior moral indicators and benchmarks are obliterated. Former values can no longer be trusted; for example:
years after the signing of the Dayton Peace Accords, which brought an end to almost four years of war in Bosnia, many of those believed to have carried out some of the war's worst atrocities remain at large (International Crisis Group, 2000: 1).
Many of the foot soldiers who had been "heroic" have now fled out of fear while those who orchestrated the wars are being hunted down by NATO forces and sent to tribunals. As a result, a leadership and moral vacuum exist and now citizens are asked to redefine their values and roles within a rudderless society. The notion of the courageous Greek warrior does not hold value in the modern day Balkans where ethnic cleansing and rape were carried out by many soldiers. In this sense it is logical that at our workshop in Novi Sad, years after the wars have ended, those who were children during the Balkan wars want to emotionally disconnect, disengage their identities from the prior years of psychological trauma as there are no heroic role models that emerged from the senseless wars. All sides lost the war. In sum, for the average twenty year old Bosnian, Croatian or Serbian attempting to understand what happened and make sense of new societal norms quickly becomes emotionally overwhelming. I suggest it is only logical to disconnect from one's emotional past and simply focus on making money, buying an Adidas tracksuit and the other temptations that emerge when capitalism enters a country unchecked.
14. In the Balkans today, a sense of modern individualism is filling the post war moral void. As MacIntyre notes:
individualism is the notion that I am what I choose myself to be. I may biologically be my father's son; but I cannot be held responsible for what he did unless I chose implicitly or explicitly to assume such responsibility. I may legally be a citizen of a certain country; but I cannot be held responsible for what my country does or has done unless I choose implicitly or explicitly to assume such responsibility (1981: 122).
Their parent's generation was raised in the Tito era in which cultural values were shaped by the dictator and moral agency was expressed by an active commitment to the local communist party. Those who are old enough to have lived during the Tito era speak of a socialist system in which families lived a European lifestyle and managed to save enough money to frequently travel to capitals far beyond the Balkans and Western Europe. In the immediate years that followed Tito's death in 1981, inflation rose by fifty percent a year and more so in the late 1980s. Citizens accustomed for more than twenty years to full stores faced shortages and long lines for basic goods (Woodward, 1995: 51). The Tito legacy of comfort was followed by years of economic decay and subsequent wars. Thus, the young Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks who participated in our workshops
are desperately asking not to be affiliated with the legacy of Tito or the wars of the 1990s and in-turn individualistic values appear to be filling this void.
15. A parallel may be that of a certain kind of individualism apparent in the United States. Such individuality is expressed by those citizens who deny any responsibility for the effects of slavery upon blacks living in the United States by saying "I never owned any slaves". This is a subtle but calculated way for citizens to take responsibility for those measures of capitalism which will benefit them individually without taking responsibility for slavery, upon which the capitalist legacy is constructed. Thus, one is able to "be a US American" and not be a part of the immoral legacy of slavery (MacIntyre, 1981: 220). In the Balkans today, workshops which stir up the legacy of ethnic difference naturally create an emotional disconnect not all that different from the disconnect people in the United States may express towards slavery. That is all the more reason for the Novi Sad participants to veer away from emotional workshops and turn towards the fleeting pleasures that capitalism has brought into the region: a new Ipod, cell phones and Prada luxury bags. At the end of our seminars and workshops it became evident that doing the intellectual and emotional work that is required of young activists living in a psychologically scarred post war region is perhaps too painful of a process for the majority.
Moving towards justice
16. Returning to Nussbaum's capabilities approach offers a set of principles that may be of value for moral educators and expands on Rawls' theory of justice. Although Rawls' theory is very strong, several aspects of the social contract seem problematic. He fails to address the needs for people who are suffering from mental disorders. Thus, his social contract is limited in post war environments where many citizens are suffering from a range of war related emotional traumas. Second, his contract is built upon the notion of the nation state which is a questionable construct for many post-modernists insofar as not every region can simply break off and create a new nation state as this is often not economically viable. Furthermore, some of these new states are electing ultra-nationalistic leaders whose policies are not based on justice for all. A third flaw is that Rawls' theory fails to address environmental concerns by the very fact that he does not take into account justice for animals. Nussbaum poses some alternatives:
I shall argue that Rawls's theory cannot in the end deliver satisfactory answers to any of these three problems and that a version of the capabilities approach, as I have developed it, can deal with these issues better. My conclusion is that we should not reject Rawls's theory or any other contractarian theory but that we should keep working on alternative theories (2002: 416).
Nussbaum argues that emotions such as "care" serve to bridge some of the debates mentioned above. Her analysis seems to be related to the idea of interdependence. In this way, compassion involves a quasi-ethical achievement: namely valuing another person as part of one's own circle of concern (in Vanden Eynde, 2005: 46).
17. Nussbaum, a critic of Rawls' rational approach, asks one to begin by first thinking of the person and what is necessary for a just society where all are capable of living a life that is fully human. The capabilities approach is best summarized by Nussbaum who states:
We insist that a fundamental art of the good of each and every human being will be to cooperate together for the fulfillment of human needs and the realization of fully human lives. We now argue that this fully human life requires many things from the world: adequate nutrition, education of the faculties, protection of bodily integrity, liberty for speech and religious self-expression - and so forth. If this is so, then we will have entitlements based on justice to a minimum of each of these central goods (2003: 473).
18. On a first reading, the components of Nussbaum's capabilities approach may be interpreted as philosophical rhetoric and not applicable in today's complex world. On the contrary, the capabilities approach is outcomes oriented and Nussbaum offers constructive redistribution strategies that move her ideas beyond theory towards a new model at the global level where humanitarian and development organizations would remain "thin and decentralized" (2003: 477). She is hoping to infuse feeling and emotional based principles into hierarchical rational based organizations. Yet, Nussbaum goes further and moves towards offering a moral construct for all. She does not imply that this work be left solely to the powers that lead governments and international organizations. On the contrary, if human beings have such entitlements, then we are all under a collective obligation to provide the people of the world with what they need. Thus, the first answer to the question "who has the duties?" is that we all do:
Humanity is under a collective obligation to find ways of living and cooperating together so that all human beings have decent lives (Nussbaum, 2003: 474).
It is in this spirit that the Novi Sad students are not let off the hook. They can no longer place blame on the corrupt politicians for holding the economy back and keeping ethnic hatreds alive. As trainers, had we been more effective in making clear the fact that we all have a collective obligation to cooperate together, the emotional work on reconciliation and the intellectual work on strategizing to improve communities could have begun. At this time, little reconciliation work is occurring in the Balkans which might have contributed to the youths', using Nussbaum's words, unwillingness to "live and cooperate together" (2003: 474). This apparent denial among Balkan youth is all the more reason to work through the messy material in the hearts and the minds of post war Balkan citizens.
Where we stand - where we need to be
19. Young people who have remained in the ex-Yugoslavia offer examples of post war courage insofar as so many of their peers have escaped the region in part due to the fact that remaining in the Balkans and learning to live together and working through painful post war emotions is demanding. Author David Rieff submits:
No one knows exactly how many Bosnians are leaving their country every year, or deciding not to return home from where they sought refuge during the 1991 to 1995 war that saw the breakup of Yugoslavia. But estimates run to the hundreds of thousands and officials fear the 'brain drain' is robbing Bosnia of its future, just as it emerges from a horrific past (2000: 102).
As a result of the large exodus of youth from the Balkans and a general sense of wanting to disconnect from the former tribes, what is emerging is a culture in which young people are freely picking and choosing their values systems. A new cultural norm has taken root, which MacIntyre would describe as emotivism, the doctrine that all evaluative judgments and more specifically all moral judgments are nothing but expressions of preference (1981: 12).
20. MacIntyre offers a vibrant historical account of how perspectives on morality have evolved since Homeric Greece, through the Enlightenment into the late twentieth century. In his view, emotivism evolved due to the fact that past philosophical efforts which attempted to provide rational justification for moral values had actually failed to offer space for all opinions to be considered socially acceptable. Emotivism thus understood turns out to be an attempt to allow room for the widest range of opinions and moral values to be accepted in society. This range, however, has not always included respect for others' basic rights. Regardless of one's moral standpoints, emotivism based on individualism has become embedded in the post war Balkan cultures and throughout Western cultures. Pope Benedict XVI, only days after becoming the leader of the world's billion Catholics stated with certainty: "we are moving toward a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything for certain and which has as its highest goal one's own ego and one's own desires" (Fischer, 2006: 1).
21. Call it relativism or emotivism, for today's Balkan youth it is now the norm to turn away from politics, community concerns, sensitivity to ethnic differences and to look for ways to literally head West. For many who have remained in the region and have continued to stay active in community issues there has been a growing selfish movement towards nationalist patriotism as is evidenced by the election of ultra conservative leaders in many Balkan states. For example, political rallies recently resulted in the election of radical leaders in Serbia. BBC news reports, "The Radicals believe in a greater Serbia, their rallies are comprised of men with shaven heads, sporting a variety of military headgear and belting out nationalist songs with great gusto" (Mardell, 2007: 1). What is needed in the Balkans is an alternative way of thinking about identity that is not driven by one's own ego and one's desires for a nationalist identity that has proven discriminatory and destructive in the recent past. An alternative approach focusing on what is best for the common good not only for the people of the Balkans but for the world at large would differ from the emotivist perspective of promoting only one's ego and one's desires.
22. Nussbaum's notion of the "cosmopolitan" offers a way out from the emotivist view that allows for each individual to construct his or her own moral values and ideas of justice. Nussbaum's cosmopolitanism bridges the gap between Rawls' sense of justice, which falls down when it encounters the nation state, and MacIntyre's emotivist world, where one is free to do as he or she pleases. Nussbaum opposes a world construct based on principles of patriotic pride which place identity around national unity:
I believe that this emphasis on patriotic pride is both morally dangerous and, ultimately, subversive of some of the worthy goals patriotism sets out to serve - for example, the goal of national unity in devotion to worthy moral ideals of justice and equality. These goals, I shall argue, would be better served by an ideal that is in any case more adequate to our situation in the contemporary world, namely the very old ideal of the cosmopolitan, the person whose primary allegiance is to the community of human beings in the entire world (1994: 1).
The cosmopolitan perspective stands in sharp contrast to the attitude that one is a Serbian, Bosnian, Croatian or a US citizen first and a citizen of the world second.
23. Returning to the Novi Sad workshop, we as trainers could have been more successful on two fronts; first, in convincing our students that we all have an obligation to cooperate together which means committing to doing the difficult emotional work that is part of the process. The second would have been to cultivate an understanding that a society based on emotivist thinking limits and often reinforces the ethnic divisions which fueled the wars and must, therefore, be transformed in order that a cosmopolitan perspective might begin to fill this void. What then should citizens of the Balkans states be learning? Educating for a new cosmopolitan identity is a self reflective process as one examines his or her emotions by seeing oneself in the lens of the other. This form of education acknowledges that we live in a world in which nations' destinies are intertwined with respect to basic goods, and which works towards problem-solving, not on a Balkan level, but on a global level. Creating a cosmopolitan educational system which offers a balance between understanding one's history as well as one's requirement to be a global citizen is difficult. Using citizens of the United States as an example Nussbaum asks:
should they be taught that they are above all citizens of the United States, or should they be taught that they are above all citizens of a world of human beings, and that, while they themselves happen to be situated in the United States, they have to share this world of human beings with citizens of other countries? (Nussbaum, 1994: 3).
The same construct clearly applies to citizens of the Balkans.
24. Attempting to analyze perspectives of Balkan youth through the lens of the teachings of MacIntyre and Nussbaum brings me to a point where I believe many working for democracy in the Balkans are at a standstill. MacIntyre's concept of emotivism may embody the mentality that led to the wars in the former Yugoslavia. In a simplistic manner, if my god believes in a different universe than your god, perhaps we cannot live side by side and the end result is war. Clearly, Nussbaum brings us to a level of hope and optimism. Yet, the steps required to move from bloodshed to reconciliation, ultimately arriving at a society based on human rights for all, are complex to say the least. Thus, attempting to apply concepts embedded in the capabilities approach (i.e. control over one's environment, imagination, etcetera) remains difficult in moving from theory into practice, especially taking into account that each of Nussbaum's capabilities needs to be acted on as a collective. Using "control over one's environment" as one small example; in Bosnia five billion dollars was spent in a five year period immediately following the war (Hartmann, 2001: 35). These funds, earmarked and controlled by non-Bosnian outsiders, left little room for local control over resources as many international donors failed to trust that Bosnians were capable of conducting business on honest terms. In sum, if Nussbaum's proposed requirement of "control over one's environment" were to be granted by international donors to Bosnians this would serve as one small example of hope for change on the local level. Yet, to the contrary, the international leadership influencing the Balkan region moves slowly and the efforts required to adopt emotion based theories such as Nussbaum's capabilities approach and to place these ideas into practice may be monumental. The challenge with the capabilities approach is where does one begin? This is where we stand in the process; the messy emotional work has yet to be done. Perhaps allowing for models of teaching about identity, morality and social justice which honor emotions may be the logical first step.
Todd Waller is Associate Dean of Students at Loyola University Chicago's Rome Center Campus. Currently a doctoral candidate in International Education at the University of London, he has also undertaken additional doctoral research in human communications studies at the University of Denver. In addition to instructing multicultural courses and coordinating international service projects at a number of universities (University of Pennsylvania, The Johns Hopkins University, University of Denver, Regis University and Fordham University), he has directed two documentary films in Bosnia Herzegovina. He is the founder of the Youth Organizing Institute which is a project of the John's Hopkins & University of Bologna's Center for Constitutional Studies and Democratic Development (CCSDD), of which he is the former director.
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Martha Nussbaum: The Basic Capabilities
1. Life. Being able to live to the end of a human life of normal length ... not dying prematurely ...
2. Bodily health and integrity. Being able to have good health, including reproductive health; being adequately nourished ... being able to have adequate shelter ...
3. Bodily integrity. Being able to move freely from place to place; being able to be secure against violent assault, including sexual assault ... having opportunities for sexual satisfaction and for choice in matters of reproduction.
4. Senses, imagination, thought. Being able to use the senses; being able to imagine, to think, and to reason - and to do these things in ... a way informed and cultivated by an adequate education ... being able to use imagination and thought in connection with experiencing, and producing expressive works and events of one's own choice ... being able to use one's mind in ways protected by guarantees of freedom of expression with respect to both political and artistic speech and freedom of religious exercise; being able to have pleasurable experiences and to avoid non beneficial pain.
5. Emotions. Being able to have attachments to things and persons outside ourselves; being able to love those who love and care for us; being able to grieve at their absence, to experience longing, gratitude, and justified anger; not having one's emotional developing blighted by fear or anxiety.
6. Practical reason. Being able to form a conception of the good and to engage in critical reflection about the planning of one's own life. (This entails protection for liberty of conscience.)
7. Affiliation. Being able to live for and in relation to others, to recognize and show concern for other human beings, to engage in various forms of social interaction; being able to imagine the situation of another and to have compassion for that situation; having the capability for both justice and friendship ... Being able to be treated as a dignified being whose worth is equal to that of others.
8. Other species. Being able to live with concern for and in relation to animals, plants, and the world of nature.
9. Play. Being able to laugh, to play, to enjoy recreational activities.
10. Control over one's environment. (A) Political : being able to participate effectively in political choices that govern one's life; having the rights of political participation, free speech and freedom of association ... (B) Material : being able to hold property (both land and movable goods); having the right to seek employment on an equal basis with others ...
© borderlands ejournal 2007