The power of literature for peace and equality

people at event

In October 2023, the Migration and Refugee Network partnered with the Centre for Development and Emergency Practice (CENDEP) and the ShelterBox Book Club to co-organize an event titled "The Power of Literature for Peace and Equality."

The Migration and Refugee Network co-organised an event, ‘the power of literature for peace and equality’, in October 2023 with the Centre for Development and Emergency Practice (CENDEP) and the ShelterBox Book Club

The ShelterBox Book Club specialises in stories from communities who have often been talked over. These books ‘give voice’ to underrepresented experiences.  The speakers discussed the psychology and science behind the potential of literature to help us understand others in a more nuanced way, which increases our empathy.

Event discussions featured author Dr Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai, Principal Lecturer in the Oxford Brookes School of Education, Dr Andrea Macrae, and ShelterBox Book Club ‘Head Bookworm’ Catherine Thornhill. Dr Quế Ma is the author of global best-selling novels, has received many international accolades and her writing has been translated into more than twenty languages.  Dr Macrae runs the “Can Literature Help Save the World?” module at Oxford Brookes.

The event referred to Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai’s beautiful novel The Mountains Sing (ShelterBox Book Club pick), which transports the reader through a rich evocation of Vietnam and praised her ability to build amazing characters for the readers to experience, and her most recent novel Dust Child.  As a ShelterBox  blog summarising the event says, “in a world where complex issues are often boiled down to two simplified and opposing points of view, counter narratives can help bring colour to black and white world views.”

The blog also highlights narrative transportation, the theory of mind and draws on the connection between ‘mirror neurons’ and how reading fires up our brain cells and creates more empathy.

CENDEP has a subscription to ShelterBox Book Club, books are available to be borrowed by Oxford Brookes University staff and students from the CENDEP office (AB406).