maraahmed.com

un cahier perlé

April 20, 2014
by mara.ahmed
0 comments

gabriel garcía márquez, conjurer of literary magic…

“Age has no reality except in the physical world. The essence of a human being is resistant to the passage of time. Our inner lives are eternal, which is to say that our spirits remain as youthful and vigorous as when we were in full bloom. Think of love as a state of grace, not the means to anything, but the alpha and omega. An end in itself.”

Gabriel García Márquez (March 6, 1927 – April 17, 2014), Love in the Time of Cholera.

Illustration for 100 Years of Solitude by Colombian artist Pedro Villalba Ospina

Illustration for 100 Years of Solitude by Colombian artist Pedro Villalba Ospina

April 15, 2014
by mara.ahmed
0 comments

Partition Stories: funding campaign on Indiegogo

We are excited to launch our Indiegogo campaign to fund the completion of our film Partition Stories, a feature length documentary about memory, truth and the possibility of reconciliation. It focuses on a unique event (the partition of India) but derives lessons that remain urgently relevant today. The film is also a work of art infused with original animation, music and literary writing. We need your support to complete it!

The film has already been shot in Pakistan, India and the US. We are now in the process of editing the film. Post-production is crucial, as this is when hours of footage metamorphose into a cogent film. It is also the costliest part of filmmaking. We need your help to complete Partition Stories in 2014.

Our Indiegogo campaign is live now (as of April 15) and will run until May 25, 2014.

Contributions start at $15. Each and every contribution is welcome! Every level of participation comes with exciting rewards. Here is a link to our campaign with detailed information including trailer, film’s background, rewards, our creative team, and much more.

If you cannot support this project financially, please spread the word through email and social media. We invite you to comment and share your own stories about the partition of India, but also about the immigrant experience in general, about the dislocation of identity, geography, language and culture. Our Tumblr blog and Facebook page are meant to advance such dialogue by bringing multiple communities together in one safe and vibrant space. Thank you!

Partition Stories is co-produced by Mara Ahmed and Surbhi Dewan, both are descendants of families torn apart by partition – one ended up in India, the other in Pakistan.

April 12, 2014
by mara.ahmed
0 comments

Linking the Fort Hood shooting to terrorism

two shootings at fort hood. nidal malik and ivan lopez. both military personnel, no history of criminal convictions, both traumatized by american wars, both go on a shooting spree. one is a terrorist who “went muslim” and became an insane, islam-infused murderer. the other has PTSD and psychiatric issues are the “fundamental underlying causal factor” behind his murderous actions. malik gets the death penalty. let’s see how lopez’s case will unfold. the media (and the american public) don’t even blink at the hypocrisy. it doesn’t register.

the point is this: rather than focus on why a particular military person snapped and went on a killing spree (the good mentally unstable killer vs the bad mentally unstable islamist killer), perhaps it would be more advantageous to explore the root cause of all this violence.

Belen Fernandez: Investigative journalist Nir Rosen has emphasised that these “big scandals[,] like Abu Ghraib, or the ‘Kill Team’ in Afghanistan”, are far from uniquely malevolent manifestations of occupation, which he defines as “a systematic and constant imposition of violence on an entire country. It’s 24 hours of arresting, beating, killing, humiliating and terrorising.” It should thus not be overly startling, perhaps, when US soldiers conditioned to operate in such fashion and to view human life as devoid of value turn their guns on fellow military personnel – and on themselves. In fact, these episodes could be construed as symbolic of the military institution’s contributions to individual dehumanisation and alienation from humanity. [...] The appreciation and concern for the wellbeing of US soldiers that is perennially voiced by the country’s leadership is, however, somewhat at odds with the situation on the ground. As CNN reported in November 2013, the suicide rate among military veterans may be at least 22 per day, and possibly higher – which suggests that Washington is not immensely preoccupied with ensuring that the people who fight its wars are properly looked after post-combat. [...] Without speculating too much about Lopez’s motives, it’s worth recalling Rosen’s reference to the constant “terrorising” that has characterised the US’ recent wars. Seeing as the process of inflicting terror on other populations in the name of the “war on terror” has undeniably had adverse behavioural and psychological repercussions for many of its participants, it might actually be accurate to declare a connection between terrorism and the Fort Hood shooting. More here.

April 1, 2014
by mara.ahmed
0 comments

Jalil Muntaqim Is Still In Attica! by Mara Ahmed

i went to attica last month to visit ex-black panther jalil muntaqim. he’s one of the longest held political prisoners in the world. i wrote about my visit and about jalil’s case (he was arrested under COINTELPRO). that article was just published in countercurrents. here it is.

Jalil is no run-of-the-mill human being. He acquired a college education whilst being incarcerated; in 1976 he initiated the National Prisoners Campaign to Petition the United Nations to recognize the existence of political prisoners in the US; in 1997 he launched the Jericho Movement to demand amnesty for American political prisoners on the basis of international law; he has written books and maintains a blog; he’s quelled prison riots; he’s involved in literacy programs and has wonderful ideas about vocational training in prison running parallel to community programs outside so that released prisoners can transition effortlessly into them and chances of relapse are minimized. For all these efforts at organizing, Jalil is transferred relentlessly from one correctional facility to another.

Jalil understands that we have reached a racial crossroads in America. Black kids are being murdered for the clothes they wear or the music they listen to, stop-and-frisk and racial profiling have become institutionalized, books like Michelle Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow” explain how a caste system rooted in mass incarceration has replaced segregation and slavery, Vietnam War protestors and activists have revealed how they stole FBI COINTELPRO files and books like Betty Medsger’s “The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI” delineate the disturbing history, machinations and criminality of the FBI. Jalil’s concern is that this “spark” might ignite people’s anger rather than become the impetus for constructive organizing. He hopes for liberal movements to unite and coalesce as they did during the Civil Rights era. He wants to hearken back to MLK’s Poor People’s Campaign and forge links between racism and economic inequity, between Trayvon Martin and Occupy Wall Street. More here.

April 1, 2014
by mara.ahmed
0 comments

“Union” by Abdulla Pashew

I don’t know how to become one with you.
If you’re heaven, then tell me.
I will kneel to every god.
If you’re hell, then tell me.
I will fill the earth with sin.

I don’t know how to become one with you.
If you’re an invaded soil, then tell me.
I will make my skin your flag.
If you are, as I am, a gypsy,
draw a border around me:
make me your country.

[Translated from Kurdish by Hemn Bakr and Alana Marie Levinson-LaBrosse]

April 1, 2014
by mara.ahmed
0 comments

Let the Tiger Mom Teach You How to Be a Rich, Arrogant, Miserable Asshole

yep.

Its breathless business-lit prose notwithstanding, The Triple Package is an altogether calmer book than Tiger Mother. There is none of the latter’s demented narcissism. The self-servingness here is only implicit. But that the later volume is the earlier writ large is unmistakable. The best gloss on Tiger Mother is The Drama of the Gifted Child, Alice Miller’s classic study of the miseries inflicted by the kind of status-oriented parenting that Chua practices. The “gifted” or accomplished child, Miller says, is one who learns to satisfy her parents’ need for gratification through achievement. But the demand is insatiable, because its satisfaction is always provisional. The child is “never good enough,” so she tries to be perfect. And thus she swings between the poles of grandiosity and depression: the delusion of supremacy and the self-disgust that ensues upon its inevitable collapse. Superiority, inferiority. As for self-control—or rather, self-erasure—the child’s desires are neither validated nor acknowledged, so she simply learns to ignore them.

This is the exact dynamic that we find in Tiger Mother. The book is like a novelized version of The Drama of the Gifted Child, only narrated from the parent’s perspective. (Imagine Moby-Dick as told by Ahab.) It’s no surprise that when you squint a little at the Triple Package—whose elements can be glossed as self-glorification, self-loathing, and self-effacement (all of them neatly captured in the Asian parents’ stereotypical question, which Chua and Rubenfeld seem so fond of, “Why only a 99?”)—you see the same pathologies at work. Representative products of the contemporary zeitgeist, Tiger Mother and The Triple Package are instruction manuals in how to be a rich, arrogant, miserable asshole. More here.

March 29, 2014
by mara.ahmed
0 comments

Nick Turse: U.S. Military Averaging More Than a Mission a Day in Africa

Nick Turse: Last year, according AFRICOM commander General David Rodriguez, the U.S. military carried out a total of 546 “activities” on the continent—a catch-all term for everything the military does in Africa. In other words, it averages about one and a half missions a day. This represents a 217% increase in operations, programs, and exercises since the command was established in 2008. [...] U.S. troops carry out a wide range of operations in Africa, including airstrikes targeting suspected militants, night raids aimed at kidnapping terror suspects, airlifts of French and African troops onto the battlefields of proxy wars, and evacuation operations in destabilized countries. Above all, however, the U.S. military conducts training missions, mentors allies, and funds, equips, and advises its local surrogates. More here.

March 29, 2014
by mara.ahmed
0 comments

‘Alice in Arabia’ Writer: Media Mob Killed My Pro-Arab, Pro-Tolerance TV Series

there are so many things wrong with an american soldier writing as an insider about a country where america maintains military bases that are strongly resented by the majority of the local people except for their dictators, whom the bases aim to protect. this whole idea of “cultural intervention” under the guise of feminism and sensitivity to the other is such racist bullcrap. whenever any privileged do-gooder of the first world asks, “is there anything i can do?” it’s helpful to remind them to take care of structurally exploitative, militarily imposed systems of injustice which originate in their own country and are responsible for the inequities they so lament around the world. but it’s easier to write a “complex” (?) tv melodrama about an american girl forced to wear the abaya in saudi arabia than to figure out and take responsibility for one’s own complicity in this grotesque world order. also particularly telling is this sympathetic cultural ambassador’s characterization of the arabs/muslims she so fervently wants to help as a mob (barbaric hordes anyone?) because they didn’t like what she had to say about them and didn’t really dig the idea of her channeling their voice. hey, brooke eikmeier, if you really want to write about something important and help women’s struggles right here in the u.s. (a valuable opportunity for furthering the cause of women worldwide), perhaps you could tackle the less popular subject of rape in the military. i promise you’ll have the support of this member of the mob.

Brooke Eikmeier: The fact is the intended series could have been a step in the right direction for all cultures and all women, sparking greater tolerance, understanding and empathy. As of a week ago a show already existed that had made it past all the many hurdles others have stumbled at before. Not only had it been picked up to pilot but the order for 10 scripts was a vote of confidence that it would have had staying power and support at the network. Success was easily within reach to achieve a goal many in the Muslim community want: a series that showed them fairly and with admiration and complexity, that would give opportunities to Arab writers and Arab actors. Blinded by the stereotype the mob had of the typical Hollywood writer, however, those imminent jobs have now disappeared. That is no victory, in any form, for anyone. More here.