maraahmed.com

un cahier perlé

March 19, 2020
by mara.ahmed
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Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics

Kimberle Crenshaw: The value of feminist theory to Black women is diminished because it evolves from a white racial context that is seldom acknowledged. Not only are women of color in fact overlooked, but their exclusion is reinforced when white women speak for and as women. The authoritative universal voice-usually white male subjectivity masquerading as non-racial, non-gendered objectivity-is merely transferred to those who, but for gender, share many of the same cultural, economic and social characteristics. When feminist theory attempts to describe women’s experiences through analyzing patriarchy, sexuality, or separate spheres ideology, it often overlooks the role of race. Feminists thus ignore how their own race functions to mitigate some aspects of sexism and, moreover, how it often privileges them over and contributes to the domination of other women. Consequently, feminist theory remains white, and its potential to broaden and deepen its analysis by addressing non-privileged women remains unrealized.

An example of how some feminist theories are narrowly constructed around white women’s experiences is found in the sepa- rate spheres literature. The critique of how separate spheres ideology shapes and limits women’s roles in the home and in public life is a central theme in feminist legal thought. Feminists have attempted to expose and dismantle separate spheres ideology by identifying and criticizing the stereotypes that traditionally have justified the disparate societal roles assigned to men and women. Yet this attempt to debunk ideological justifications for women’s subordination offers little insight into the domination of Black women. Because the experiential base upon which many feminist insights are grounded is white, theoretical statements drawn from them are overgeneralized at best, and often wrong.” Statements such as “men and women are taught to see men as independent, capable, powerful; men and women are taught to see women as dependent, limited in abilities, and passive,” are common within this literature. But this “observation” overlooks the anomalies created by crosscurrents of racism and sexism. Black men and women live in a society that creates sex-based norms and expectations which racism operates simultaneously to deny; Black men are not viewed as powerful, nor are Black women seen as passive. An effort to develop an ideological explanation of gender domination in the Black community should proceed from an understanding of how crosscutting forces establish gender norms and how the conditions of Black subordination wholly frustrate access to these norms. Given this understanding, perhaps we can begin to see why Black women have been dogged by the stereotype of the pathological matriarch” or why there have been those in the Black liberation movement who aspire to create institutions and to build traditions that are intentionally patriarchal. More here.

March 8, 2020
by mara.ahmed
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international women’s day 2020

instead of mollycoddling privileged white women, on this international women’s day, let’s lift the voices of the most marginalized and courageous. let’s pledge solidarity to the women of shaheen bagh in india, to indigenous women here, in canada and south america, to the women of the black lives matter movement, to arab feminists and revolutionaries fighting patriarchy as well as imperial wars, to women struggling for prison abolition and immigration reform, to kashmiri women, palestinian women, uighur and rohingya women who continue to resist, to women from the senegal, chad, kenya and south africa fighting for the world’s oceans, to the women of chile, mexico and bolivia, to all our powerful sisters across the globe, we see u – we will sink or swim together. 

March 7, 2020
by mara.ahmed
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Courtesan with a Bird

Artist/maker unknown. Portrait of a Courtesan with a Bird, Reverse painting on glass made in the Deccan Region or in Gujarat, India, 19th century.

March 6, 2020
by mara.ahmed
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universal healthcare over empty representation

i understand that warren supporters are disappointed, i would be too if someone i believed in and campaigned for didn’t get the votes to stay in the race. but some of the tributes to warren that i am seeing on social media are ridiculous. like this one: ‘one day, some day, maybe this nation will be worthy of elizabeth warren. this is not that day.’

for real? i am sorry (and i know this will be unpopular) but i have to call out nonsense when i see it. i understand that warren is a woman and that, in and of itself, is a challenge. trust me, all women can ‘feel’ that in their bodies. but at the end of the day, i will vote for universal healthcare over gender. i will do it every single time.

universal healthcare is the foundation on which we build an egalitarian society and that’s particularly important to me as a woman and poc.

also, sanders might be an old white man (as warren supporters like to describe him) but he’s also jewish, not the most privileged group of people in the world historically. as a muslim woman, as a religious minority, as someone who is used to my people being constantly orientalized, othered and attacked, i’d love to see the american presidency open up that way and embrace the kind of socialist reform that i associate closely with islam.

i don’t think our nation (whatever that means) is not worthy of warren, rather we, as human beings, are certainly worthy of medicare for all.

March 6, 2020
by mara.ahmed
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Gifts from Janani

Haldi Kumkum ceremony, is a social gathering in India in which married women exchange haldi (turmeric) and kumkum (vermilion powder) – see the pretty sachet in the picture – as a symbol of their married status and wishing for their husbands’ long lives.

The ceremony is particularly popular in the western Indian states of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Goa. In Tamil Nadu, it is celebrated as Aadiperukku aka Aadi monsoon festival.

March 5, 2020
by mara.ahmed
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dinner at janani’s

lovely, intimate dinner and #gupshup with the beautiful Janani Parthasarathi. janani treated me to tamil cuisine from the southern tip of india: delicious adai (pancake made with lentils and rice) that i sprinkled with gur (brown sugar from sugarcane), rasam which reminded me of karhi pakora, gojju made with tamarind and butternut squash, puliyore (a rice dish with peanuts), poriyal with cabbage and peas, and vella payasam (a fragrant kheer made with date sugar). there was also homemade dahi (yogurt) which took me back to pakistan. what a feast, what wonderful company. thank u janani.

March 3, 2020
by mara.ahmed
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panelists for post screening discussion

After the screening of ‘A Thin Wall’ there will be a Q&A discussion about the film, the 1947 partition, and the current news coming out of India.

I will be joined by Hibah Arshad, who will speak from personal experience about what it’s like to have family in India.

Hibah Arshad is a graduate of the University of Rochester. She majored in Psychology and is planning to pursue a career in medicine. She has been actively involved in interfaith efforts and community outreach for a number of years. She is a first generation Indian-American, and hopes to bring light to the impact that these recent events have had on Indian Muslims around the world.

My second co-panelist, for our post-screening discussion, will be Thomas Gibson. Tom will talk about British colonialism, the history of the RSS and European fascism. He will also locate the Delhi pogrom in a global, neoliberal context. Here is his bio.

Thomas Gibson is an anthropologist who has conducted extensive field research in the Philippines and Indonesia on religious nationalism, the indigenous peoples movement, and the legacy of Spanish, American and Dutch colonialism in Southeast Asia. He teaches courses at the University of Rochester on Radical Social Theory, American Empire, and Political Ontology.

Sat. March 14 // 6-9 PM // 36 King Street
Tickets on sale now:
$8/online // $10/ at the door
http://tiny.cc/540thinwall

March 2, 2020
by mara.ahmed
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From Secular Talk

Secular Talk
@KyleKulinski
If you believe in real change I’m humbly asking you to back Bernie tomorrow. You see how panicked the establishment is & how they’ll stop at nothing to take him down. That should tell you something powerful.

March 2, 2020
by mara.ahmed
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why the partition is still relevant

when i was working on ‘a thin wall,’ some people questioned its relevance. after all, why would something that happened in 1947, on the other side of the planet, in south asia, have any relevance for the world in the 21st century.

the advent of fascism in india along with the recent violence unleashed on minorities, especially the anti-muslim pogrom in delhi, have everything to do with the partition – with ethnonationalism, racial supremacy, and ideas of separation and ‘purity.’ many have likened the pogrom to kristallnacht in 1930s germany. there are also astounding similarities to the incitement and killings of 1947.

so far there has been no public discussion in rochester about the unraveling of india, what arundhati roy describes as follows:

‘A democracy that is not governed by a Constitution and one whose institutions have all been hollowed out can only ever become a majoritarian state. You can agree or disagree with a Constitution as a whole or in part – but to act as though it does not exist as this government is doing is to completely dismantle democracy. Perhaps this is the aim. This is our version of the coronavirus. We are sick.’

pls join us for a vigorous post-screening discussion and learn more. this can happen anywhere, especially in the US where fascism has already become a reality.

will be posting the bios of my co-panelists soon.