UBC Theses and Dissertations
Pirbhai’s blessings : a narrative quest towards a pedagogy of virtues Vellani, Al-Munir
Metaphors of "journey" or "rootlessness" are often used to describe movements of people across cultural and social spaces, and physical geographies. Such journeys whilst revealing stories that speak of a people's voice, are rarely seen as embodying an implicit quest for a narrative unity with a teleology and pedagogy, sui generis. This inquiry focuses upon the narrative journey of one such community of "travellers," the Indian Ismailis, who left their timeworn homeland in the North Western region of the Indian Subcontinent at the end of the nineteenth century and travelled to colonial Eastern Africa to make the land their new home. In the early 1970' s , however, political unrest in this now "postcolonial" region prompted the succeeding generations of the earlier pioneers to once again uproot their African home and undertake yet another journey, this time towards the so-called modern societies of Canada and other Western countries. This historical and often turbulent intergenerational voyage of over a hundred years is also a continuous journey of a modern selfhood in aporia as it experiences and traverses the various institutions, practices, and milieus of modernity, while attempting to engage with or update its own biographical narrative. Using the important and primary genre of shared conversations implicit within a narrative and hermeneutical inquiry, this project acts as witness and delves into the narratives of a diverse group of individuals from four generations of these travellers. It is proposed that in these intergenerational conversations and stories lie experiences and expressions of praxis that also reveal or point towards moral enablements of practices and virtues, and arguments that make present a "living tradition." This tradition, it is felt, can act as a significant and inescapable horizon - a robust historical consciousness - from which a modern selfhood in aporia can once again begin to update its own narrative as part of a continuous story of a community with a teleology, and which the current and future generations of these "travellers" can recognize, argue, update, and ultimately possess as they venture purposefully into the community's shared future.
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