Dr Maeve McKeown
"Many people think about what responsibilities they have in relation to global injustices, like poverty or sweatshop labour. This is an urgent question, but it is extremely difficult to answer. The political theorist Iris Marion Young offered a solution in her final works before her untimely death in 2006. She argued that ordinary individuals bear political responsibility for global injustices, rather than being guilty. Guilt implies that an individual directly caused harm, intended to cause harm and knew the consequences of their actions. However, this does not apply when ordinary individuals participate in everyday practices that cumulatively lead to unjust outcomes. Instead, she argues that they share a forward-looking responsibility to engage in collective action to overcome unjust socio-economic, political and cultural structures to which they are connected. She calls this the “social connection model” of responsibility. Young did not finish her work on this theory, and so in my work I try to address some of the gaps in the project and address objections to it. I also apply the theory to historical injustices, including reparations for slavery."
Dr McKeown organises St Hilda’s Feminist Salon, which happens twice each term at College. A guest host is invited from feminist academia, art or activism, who decides on the format of the salon. The first salon took place in October 2016, when we welcomed prize-winning poet, writer and literary scholar Fatemeh Shams and Zuzanna Olszewska, Associate Professor in the Social Anthropology of the Middle East at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Oxford, and a Fellow of St John’s College.
On 25 November, we will welcome Pragna Patel, a founding member of Southall Black Sisters and Women Against Fundamentalism. Pragna worked as a co-ordinator and senior case worker for SBS from 1982 to 1993 when she left to train and practice as a solicitor. In 2009, she returned to SBS as its Director. She has been centrally involved in some of SBS’s most important cases and campaigns around domestic violence, immigration and religious fundamentalism. She has also written extensively on race, gender and religion.
The salon will be available on the internet and people outside Oxford can participate by sending in questions via twitter or facebook.