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October 9, 2017
by mara.ahmed
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we live on seneca land

we are grateful to live on seneca land. it’s indigenous peoples day everyone. #decolonizethisplace

Ah-Weh-Eyu, Seneca, 1908


From Decolonize This Place, 2nd Annual Anti-Columbus Day Tour 2017

October 8, 2017
by mara.ahmed
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awesome weekend

what a weekend! my son surprised us with a visit on my husband’s birthday and made us all incredibly happy! late night conversations on friday night followed by celebrations and a delicious family dinner on saturday. on sunday, my film “A Thin Wall” was screened in vancouver and i got to skype with an extremely well-informed, lovely audience that totally got the message of the film – makes me love the work i do 🙂

a thin wall screening in vancouver

October 6, 2017
by mara.ahmed
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Can an 11-Year-Old Girl Consent to Sex?

sexual freedom above all else is such a hackneyed political slogan for much of the west, especially france. works particularly well for men. by placing all of its intellectual (predominantly male) weight in favor of complete sexual freedom and in opposition to laws “controlling” sexuality and the “incongruity between the outdated nature of the law and the everyday reality of a society which tends to recognize the existence of a sexual life in children and adolescents,” france has lost touch with common sense.

Most European countries have, over the past two decades, set age limits under which a minor simply cannot consent. In Belgium, any sexual intercourse with a child below the age of 14 is rape, punishable up to 20 years, or up to 30 years for victims under 10. In Britain, the age of consent is 16, but specific legal protection exists for children under 13: They cannot legally give their consent to any form of sexual activity. There is a maximum sentence of life imprisonment for “rape, assault by penetration, and causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.”

But in France, as long as “violence, coercion, threat or surprise” is not proven, sexual intercourse with a minor — even one under 15 — is considered an “atteinte sexuelle,” which is an infraction and not a crime. More here.

October 5, 2017
by mara.ahmed
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Dislocating the Orient

While the twentieth century’s conflicting visions and exploitation of the Middle East are well documented, the origins of the concept of the Middle East itself have been largely ignored. With Dislocating the Orient, Daniel Foliard tells the story of how the land was brought into being, exploring how maps, knowledge, and blind ignorance all participated in the construction of this imagined region. Foliard vividly illustrates how the British first defined the Middle East as a geopolitical and cartographic region in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries through their imperial maps. Until then, the region had never been clearly distinguished from “the East” or “the Orient.” In the course of their colonial activities, however, the British began to conceive of the Middle East as a separate and distinct part of the world, with consequences that continue to be felt today. As they reimagined boundaries, the British produced, disputed, and finally dramatically transformed the geography of the area—both culturally and physically—over the course of their colonial era. More here.

October 4, 2017
by mara.ahmed
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my thoughts on the las vegas shooting

yes, the easy availability of guns facilitates violent expressions of rage but we must also recognize that american culture is, at its core, incredibly violent. as basic as this might sound, this is a country built on the genocide of native peoples and the transatlantic slave trade yet there is no proper acknowledgement of that reality. we are comfortable talking about the holocaust in germany but not about american holocausts. unless we confront those traumas and their ongoing violence, how are we supposed to heal and move on?

the systemic ramifications of this brutal history are still with us in the form of police brutality, mass incarceration, unemployment, poverty, housing segregation, discrimination in healthcare, a broken justice system, etc.

there is also the question of empire. the word is not even part of our linguistic repertoire. it’s astounding. american imperialism is global in scale and barbaric in its violence – from puerto rico and the philippines to central and south america to africa, asia and the middle east. there’s hardly a part of the world that remains untouched by american military or political assaults.

yet the myth of american exceptionalism and innocence continues – the glossy corporate media are quick to turn the tables and cast americans as hapless do-gooders and victims, constantly threatened by some abstract, invisible “terror.”

the connection between what america does abroad and how it deploys the same type of racist violence to control and subjugate its own poor, marginalized, colonized is completely lost, even in activist circles. the disconnect has always been shocking for me.

finally, most mass shootings are committed by straight white men. this underlines a particular kind of white supremacy and sense of entitlement. rather than commit violence at home, white men exhibit a sense of ownership of public spaces. therefore, when they are invisibilized or thwarted, they express their rage and frustration publicly, in spaces they see as belonging to them.

October 3, 2017
by mara.ahmed
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In Praise of the Flâneur

“The figure of the flâneur—the stroller, the passionate wanderer emblematic of nineteenth-century French literary culture—has always been essentially timeless; he removes himself from the world while he stands astride its heart.” More here.