Return to Sender screening at New Orleans Museum of Art

I will be screening ‘Return to Sender: Women of Color in Colonial Postcards & the Politics of Representation’ and giving a talk at the New Orleans Museum of Art on Thursday, June 13th, 3:15-4:15 pm, as part of Kolaj Fest organized by the Kolaj Institute. New Orleans friends, pls join the discussion and come and say hello.

More details here.

Return to Sender | Rochester Premiere at ROC Cinema

Return to Sender: Women of Color in Colonial Postcards & the Politics of Representation is coming to Rochester, New York, on May 4th at 12pm.

The screening will be followed by a panelist discussion. Seating is limited. You can buy your tickets below.

PROGRAM DETAILS: Come join us for the Rochester premiere of Mara Ahmed’s Return to Sender, an afternoon of film & community discussion at ROC Cinema! 

Return to Sender: Women of Color in Colonial Postcards & the Politics of Representation is a short, experimental film directed and produced by Mara Ahmed. This project was funded by a NYSCA grant. It pushes the documentary medium in unexpected ways by opening with three contemporary South Asian American women who recreate British colonial postcards from the early 20th century. Dressed in lavish traditional attire and jewelry and shot exquisitely in a darkened studio, the women emulate the awkward poses of the postcard women, only to subvert the colonial male gaze and acquire autonomy by choosing an action of their own. This symbolic ‘returning’ of the Orientalist gaze is layered with discussions about Eurocentric beauty standards, representations of South Asian women in media and culture, stereotypes, othering, identity and belonging. The film hopes to create community by facilitating conversations about erasure and the politics of representation.

Join us for an afternoon of movie magic at ROC Cinema. You will be transported into a world of early 20th century postcards and all the conversations they provoke. Be part of the discussion with panelists Urvashi Bhattacharya, Hernease Davis and Sumayia Islam, as well as Director Mara Ahmed. Don’t miss out on this exclusive event – mark your calendars now! See you there!

DATE: Saturday, May 4, 12:00 – 2:00 PM

VENUE: ROC Cinema (957 S Clinton Avenue, Rochester, NY 14620) is a luxury theater featuring the latest food trends, drinks, and first class entertainment. You’ll have an electrifying night, while watching a movie.

PANELISTS: Learn more about panelists Hernease Davis, Urvashi Bhattacharya and Sumayia Islam here.

FILM REVIEW: Read Cathy Salibian’s brilliant film review in the Rochester Beacon here.

Return to Sender: Panelists

We will have an amazing discussion after the premiere of ‘Return to Sender’ in Rochester, NY, on May 4th, 12pm, at the Cinema.

Buy tickets here.

Post-screening panelist Sumayia Islam:

Sumayia graduated from Nazareth University with a Bachelor’s degree in Social Science. She is currently working as a Community Impact Coordinator for a Philanthropic Foundation. Sumayia is one of the brilliant women featured in the film.

Panelist Hernease Davis:

Hernease is a photo-based artist and an Assistant Curator at the Visual Studies Workshop where she develops programming that addresses contemporary conversations in the photographic arts. Hernease earned her B.A. in Biology from Swarthmore College and her M.F.A. in Advanced Photographic Studies from Bard College.

Panelist Urvashi Bhattacharya:

Urvashi spent the first 26 years of her life in India and professes an unwavering loyalty to the Indian cricket team and vegetarian food. While in India, she got her Masters in International Economics and an MBA but moved to the United States before embarking on her professional journey. She currently works at Syracuse University where she is Director of Strategic Initiatives and Project Management. Urvashi stars in the film along with Sumayia Islam and Fatimah Arshad.

Return to Sender screening at Stony Brook University

What a wonderfully organized screening of ‘Return to Sender: Women of Color in Colonial Postcards & the Politics of Representation’ at Stony Brook University’s Humanities Institute. A thrill to work with Liz Montegary, Chairperson of Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies at Stony Brook, and to be a panelist along with Avina Mathias and Emelyn Pareja-Garcia who both did an internship on this project. So many amazing friends and neighbors in the audience and then dinner at Ixchel Mexican Cuisine to end the night on a high note.

Visual Studies Workshop: In Dialogue with Mara Ahmed

I am thrilled to announce that I will be coming to Rochester, NY, on March 28th to present a dialogue between my work on colonial postcards and the Visual Studies Workshop’s film and lantern slide archives!

This will be an exciting conversation where we will see clips from my new film, about the aftershocks of colonialism, juxtaposed against film clips from Rochester in the 1970s that talk about police control and violence. We will make connections to current political power systems and pay special attention to the representations of women from the global south and white feminism. I make a lot of presentations, but this is the first time I have engaged with an institution’s archives and located my work within that framework.

Pls join us and add to the convo. You can register here.

Here is more info from the VSW’s website:

Mara Ahmed is an interdisciplinary artist and award winning activist filmmaker. Mara’s documentaries center marginalized voices and have focused on communities grappling with nuanced experiences around racism, colonization and islamophobia. She will present a program that incorporates her work with postcards, lantern slides and films she has researched and chosen from the VSW archive. Mara will also present clips from her latest film, Return to Sender: Women of Color in Colonial Postcards & the Politics of Representation, which was awarded a NYSCA film grant, and will premiere at a future time in Rochester.

The evening will culminate in a discussion with Mara Ahmed facilitated by Hernease Davis, the Assistant Curator of Education and Public Programs. This program will also be livestreamed via

Stills from Return to Sender: Sumayia Islam, Fatimah Arshad, Urvashi Bhattacharya

Noqtah #1: Religion in modern and contemporary art of the MENA region

Wendy Shaw (Ph.D. UCLA, 1999) is Professor of the Art History of Islamic cultures at the Free University Berlin. Her work focuses on the impact of coloniality on art-related institutions, modern art and pre-modern discourses of perception, with emphasis on the Ottoman Empire and regions of Islamic hegemony.

Watch Wendy Shaw’s 30-min lecture for Noqtah, an Instagram Live Series organized by AMCA (Association for Modern + Contemporary Art of the Arab World, Iran + Turkey) here. It was originally posted on Oct 26, 2020.

Instructions on how to contact International Court of Justice

Instructions on how to contact International Court of Justice (ICJ) Judges to express how you feel, before they make judgement on South Africa Vs Israel genocide case on Thurs 11th Jan, 2024: (Process will take max 3 min)

  • Copy all text below and paste into the body of a new email.
  • Cut and paste email addresses into “To” box
  • Write your own subject title
  • Insert your name and country into 1st paragraph and again your name at end of letter
  • Edit letter to your own style if you wish (optional)
  • Attach any evidence (eg Tweets) – (optional)
  • Send email

(Same process as above for individual letters to individual judges by country – (see thread below – (optional);;;;;;;;;;;;;;

Subject: Urgent Concerns Regarding the impending matter of South Africa v. Israel with the ICJ

Dear Madam President and esteemed panel of Judges,

I hope this message finds you well and resolute. My name is [Your Name], I am a concerned citizen of the [Your Country]. I am reaching out to you with a sense of urgency and sincere apprehension which prompts me to break my customary silence.

I have always held the belief that individuals in positions of authority, such as yourself, harbour the best interests of humanity at heart. However, recent developments in the Middle East and the global response to them have stirred doubt in my convictions, compelling me to express my concerns directly to you.

As I explored the International Court of Justice’s website, I took solace in the fact that it consists of “independent judges, elected regardless of their nationality from among persons of high moral character.” With this understanding, I address you regarding the impending South Africa v. Israel matter, the provisional measures hearing of which is scheduled for Thursday, 11th and Friday, 12th January 2024.

I am sure that you are acutely aware of the gravity of the case before you, and I believe that your ability to discern the truth, resist external pressures, and deliver a just judgment is foremost on your mind. The Genocide Convention, a cornerstone of international law, was established in 1948 as a commitment to ‘never again’ allow atrocities akin to those committed by the Nazi’s in WW2. 152 states out of 194 nations of the world honourably signed up to the convention. It is a testament to our parents and grandparents that their generations committed to a set of standards that constitute the basic principles of right and wrong, which underpin the fabric of the world we live in and form the basis of the lives most of us are lucky enough to lead.

The very fact that the responsibility of adjudicating on this case has fallen upon your shoulders underscores a disheartening truth – the failure of existing systems of checks and balances within the international community. It is disconcerting that national interests have tainted the operations of our global systems, allowing the mass killing of civilians to persist without intervention. I find this reality appalling, as do countless citizens around the world who have expressed their horror through protests on the streets of cities across the globe.

The upcoming case is a litmus test for humanity’s commitment to the solemn pledge of ‘Never Again.’ Generations have been educated about the horrors of the Holocaust, and this case challenges us to live up to the principles we profess. It is a stark reminder that the values we hold dear are being tested in real-time, with devastating consequences.

In March 2022, the International Court of Justice ordered Russia to immediately suspend military operations in Ukraine and ensure that affiliated units take no further steps in furtherance of the military operations. Despite this intervention, an estimated 10,000 civilians have tragically lost their lives in Ukraine since Russia’s military operation in 2022. Moreover, and by comparison, the death toll in Gaza has already surpassed 22,000 since October 2023, with a staggering 70% of the victims being women and children.

In an age where mainstream media faces scepticism due to perceived biases, the global community has been witness to Israel’s actions in real-time through various social media platforms such as X, TikTok, and Telegram. Enclosed with this letter, you’ll find compelling evidence pointing towards Israel’s culpability in intending to commit genocide and engaging in genocidal military actions, among other alleged war crimes.

We find ourselves in a world where trust in global institutions is eroding rapidly. The International Court of Justice, in particular, cannot afford to make an erroneous judgment in the #SouthAfrica v. #Israel genocide case. A misjudgment in this matter would not only underscore the ICJ’s ineffectiveness but also prompt scrutiny regarding its autonomy from nation-state political influences, potentially compromising the esteemed moral character of the individuals involved.

I humbly beseech you to approach this case with the utmost diligence, impartiality, and commitment to justice. The eyes of the world are upon you, and the outcome of this particular case will reverberate through history, shaping perceptions of the ICJ’s impartiality and moral standing.

Yours sincerely,
(Insert Name)

A Palestine reading list from Black Women Radicals

There is no excuse, absolutely none, for being uneducated on Palestine. A brilliant reading list from Black Women Radicals ????

Repost from @blackwomenradicals:

We, who believe in freedom, we as Black feminists who believe in freedom –– freedom from white supremacy, patriarchy, capitalism, transphobia, queerphobia, ableism, and other oppressions –– unabashedly believe in and stand in solidarity for a free Palestine.

We created a reading list that offers a brief primer on the radical Black feminist political mandate, which is solidarity with Palestine.

viva palestina

hundreds, possibly thousands, at the long island rally for palestine in mineola today, organized by the muslim community of nassau county. as one of the imams said, the US, with its own problems of settler colonialism and systemic racism, should recuse itself from any form of arbitration/ participation and withdraw all its arms, military personnel, and money. end the bombing. end genocide now.

viva palestina!

first real time genocide in human history

what’s happening in gaza is the first real-time, live, in full-view-of-the-world genocide in human history. if u are praying for israel, the settler colony perpetrating this genocide, and harping on hamas attacks, then u are not human (as one of my palestinian friends wrote). it’s physically painful for us (the non-white/non-western people of the world) to see your callous posts and inane bothsidism. u don’t know that much about palestine? that’s not an excuse. if u are an adult, educate yourself. i see social media as a place to create community, not to butt heads with people. the real world is ugly enough. i will say goodbye to any form of colonialism or racism i encounter.

Stop the genocide in Gaza

CNN: At least 1,799 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza from Israeli strikes, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza. The death toll includes 583 children and 351 women. An additional 7,388 people have been injured, including 1,901 children and 1,185 women.

Ali Harb: Israel has informed the UN that 1.1 million people have 24 hours to leave the northern Gaza strip. You know how you read about ethnic cleansing and genocide in history books and wonder, how could it happen? That’s how: Drumming up anger to achieve full dehumanization.

The United Nations reports that 423,000 Palestinians have already been internally displaced within Gaza, and “considers it impossible for such a movement to take place without devastating humanitarian consequences.”

What can Americans do to stop this ethnic cleansing and genocide?

Pls see comments: a list by JVP, a tool/script by, also pls support the Palestinian Red Crescent Society:

“Despite the occupation’s threats to shell; the decision has been made. We did and will not leave. Our medics will carry on their humanitarian duties. We won’t leave people to face death alone.”

Devastating earthquake in Afghanistan

On October 7 2023 at around 11:00 local time, a devastating 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck 25 miles west of Herat City in Herat Province, western Afghanistan. Following the initial quake, several aftershocks rippled through the region, affecting neighboring provinces of Badghis and Farah as well.
Four days after the initial earthquake, a second 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck Herat, Afghanistan.

The latest official reports paint a grim picture: over 1,200 lives lost and 1,663 people injured across eleven villages of Zindajan district, Herat Province. More than 12,000 people have been affected.

Entire communities have been razed to the ground, leaving behind a trail of destruction and despair. In the immediate aftermath, many families fled their homes, leading to a significant displacement towards Herat city center.

A dire situation unfolded within the first 24 hours since the earthquake struck. Hundreds of homes and critical infrastructure were obliterated. Now, thousands of people find themselves grappling with the harsh reality of their circumstances.

Nights are bitterly cold, with temperatures plummeting to around 50 degrees fahrenheit. Families are forced to sleep under the open skies, battling freezing conditions, lack of essential supplies, and looming threats to their safety.

Adding to this crisis is the pre-existing vulnerability of the region. Afghanistan was already reeling from the aftermath of recent floods and political instability even before this earthquake. A staggering 29 million people were in desperate need of humanitarian assistance.

Please help as much as you can.

A propaganda war is going on

Maureen Murphy: ‘Biden lied about seeing images of beheaded children. LIED ABOUT SEEING IMAGES OF BEHEADED CHILDREN. This is all about manufacturing consent for genocide in Gaza. I cannot wrap my head around the profound implications of this.’

The White House staff is scrambling to explain and justify. The man straight up lied. Not voting for this racist again. Never.