George Jackson in the Sun of Palestine

The overlaps between Palestinian and Black liberation movements <3

How did a poem by Palestinian poet, Samih al-Qasim, come to be known and published under George Jackson’s name, in English translation? George Jackson, a Black revolutionary writer, was incarcerated in California for more than a decade, until he was killed in 1971 by prison guards. Among the ninety-nine books Jackson had in his cell at the time of his death, one was “Enemy of the Sun,” a collection of Palestinian resistance poetry. For four decades, the title poem of the collection has circulated in Black Panther newspapers and other venues under George Jackson’s name. In this episode, Professor Greg Thomas discusses his recovery of this shared history, and the traveling exhibition that emerged from his research. Listen here.

Filmmakers in Solidarity

filmmaker friends, pls read and sign here if u agree. this letter addresses the complete lack of diversity in the PBS system, which is supposed to represent “public media for all.” if i see another ken burns documentary…

“A census on the entire PBS system is overdue. In addition to boards of trustees and management, what is the demographic breakdown at the top producing stations of their Executive Producers and above-the-line teams, currently and historically? Data also needs to be collected on the programmers of all stations, as they collectively influence what is seen across the US. Until the scope of the problem is made public, how can it be solved?”

The Warp & Weft – Eighth Set of Stories

4 new Warp & Weft stories today! One about the strangeness of MMXX by Noelle Mirabal-Evans, wonderful reflections in Hindi by Surbhi Dewan, a story about birding and the northern cardinal by Kay Saleem, and another about rupture and repair by Yan Lehmann. Finally, a beautiful artistic response by Sarah Sills. Listen, read, look here.

Repost from Rochester Contemporary Art Center:

Head over to maraahmedstudio.com and listen to the newest stories from The Warp & Weft archive!

MMXX: Strange Times by Noelle Evans
You know, two thousand twenty in Roman numerals is M-M X-X. Double M double X. I’ve decided to refer to this year in this way for as long as it serves me. What a year it was for the fall of the Roman Empire. Right? It just feels fitting. [Photo: Madelyn Bradt]

Just Some Thoughts by Surbhi Dewan
Two thousand and twenty. As the year comes to an end, it feels like not much was accomplished. And yet, this year will stay with us for many years to come. I still can’t believe how in March, the whole world came to a standstill. The whole world frozen in time, as all of us retreated into our homes together.

My Spark Bird by Kalsoom Saleem
A spark bird is the bird that triggers an interest in birding or bird watching. For me it was the northern cardinal. [Photo: Zidaan Aamer]

Rupture and Repair By Ian Layton
It is on those particularly still and heavy days that I sit and remember the birth of the universe. The memory contained in my every cell. My mind’s eye catches the moment when life burst forth and set us on this divine course. [Photo: Evan Zachary]

Spark Feather by Sarah Sills: An artistic response to the archive

The Warp & Weft – Seventh Set of Stories

4 new Warp & Weft stories today, including a stunning poem by Deema Shehabi, a story in Urdu about the meaning of life by Ayesha Javed, another about the books and people that shape us by Cathy Salibian, and a look at physics and the nature of reality by Shamoun Murtza. Finally, a beautiful musical response by Tom Davis. Listen and read here.

Repost from Rochester Contemporary Art Center:

You can now experience the newest set of stories from The Warp & Weft archive at maraahmedstudio.com

At Cathedral Grove: A Treatise on Vanishing by Deema K. Shehabi
Afternoon dialects beneath a redwood canopy: two children skip ahead; their feet grind the ground, crushing ferns, tearing tenebrous skulls of leaves. They giggle, while a vanishing world lies ahead of them. The spot where the sun abandons is where the light hangs briefly beneath a shoulder blade, then spreads. [Photo: Omar F. Khorsheed]

The Purpose of Life by Ayesha Javed
We are living in strange times. Hundreds of thousands of people have left this world on account of the pandemic. Their lives were just as valuable as yours or mine. This should be a moment of deep reflection for all of us.

The Right Words by Cathy Salibian
My oldest book is a small red hardcover of David Copperfield. I was maybe twelve years old when my father reached to a shelf in his study, pulled down that book and said to me a little shyly, “I see that you like to read. Maybe you will like this. I read it when I was just a little older than you.” [Photo: Kate Kressmann-Kehoe]

If A Tree Falls In The Forest by Shamoun Murtza
I’ll start with the disclaimer that I am not a Ph.D. My formal education in Physics reached its zenith with my concentration in Applied Physics for my bachelor’s degree. But I never stopped searching for the truth about the nature of our universe. Listen at your own risk, you have been warned.

The Sound Of Falling by Tom Davis: A musical response to the archive

The Warp & Weft: Sixth Set of Stories

4 new Warp & Weft stories today! A story in Urdu about the joys of volunteering by Fabeha Fazal, another about the solace of seclusion by Allyson Perkins, a story about lessons learned from the #BLM uprising by Nate Baldo, and one about the congregation of community and what we can learn from queer elders by Shirly Bahar. Finally, a gorgeous dance response by María José Rodríguez-Torrado. Listen, read, watch here.

Repost from Rochester Contemporary Art Center:

Head over to maraahmedstudio.com and listen to the newest stories from The Warp & Weft archive!

My Story In My Own Words by Fabeha Fazal
I would like to share some life experiences with you that might be worth sharing. I was born in Delhi and brought up in Aligarh. My dad was a professor at Aligarh Muslim University. We were raised with the idea that life had two important goals: acquiring the highest education possible and savoring the best food.

Consolation in Isolation by Allyson Perkins
Reticent was a word my mom used to describe me. I remember she said it with ease as if it were just a matter of fact. She was speaking to my kindergarten teacher who had growing concerns about my ability to socialize. [Photo: Rebekah Ostrander]

A Moral Reckoning by Nathaniel Baldo
The ongoing Black Lives Matter uprising has helped further my recognition of the depth of structural racism and bigotry here in Rochester and across the country. I grew up in Brighton, New York, an adjacent, relatively affluent suburb. I’ve tried to take time and reflect on messages and boundaries that were taught from an early age… [Photo: Adam Eaton]

February 2020: On Fire by Shirly Bahar
February 2021 marks 1 year since we last went to the movies. Remember going to the movies – that act of coming together as an audience, a short-term congregation of community, to share the experience of spectatorship for a couple of hours. On this one year anniversary, I am reflecting back on that experience, trying to retrieve what we have taken with us, as well as left behind us, on our last night so far at the movie theater.

Nostalgia (longing) by María José Rodríguez-Torrado: A dance response to the archive

Islamic Feminisms, Alternative Lifeworlds, Decoloniality

Dear friends, next week, on April 14 at 10:25 am EST, I will be teaching U of R students an online class on ‘Islamic Feminisms, Alternative Life-worlds, Decoloniality.’ Tanya, whose class I am teaching, has been kind enough to open it up to everyone. My presentation will have some kick-ass ideas (articulated by kick-ass women like Alia Al-Saji, Saba Mahmood, and Francoise Verges). It will have stunning artwork created by POCs and video clips that will spark an interesting discussion. I am linking to some of the reading materials in comments. Pls let me know if you’d like to join us and I will send you the zoom link as soon as we have one. Hope you can make it!

Twenty Years Since 9/11: An Activist Filmmaker’s Take

Although I’ve written for the Socialist Worker, Mondoweiss, Counterpunch, Mason Street and other publications, I had never written for an academic journal before. The wonderful Reshmi Dutt-Ballerstadt changed all that when she asked me to be part of a segment she was curating for South Asian Review, for the upcoming 20th Anniversary of 9/11. The full print issue, with essays by Mohamad Junaid, Deepa Kumar, Maimuna Islam and myself, will be out in December.

Here is my piece, written from the perspective of an activist filmmaker and someone who tries to unpack Islamophobia. I so appreciate Reshmi’s curation (her excellent introduction is here) and her willingness to open up the conversation and hear from culture-makers. I enjoyed working on this short piece even though citations are a killer:) It’s almost 20 years since 9/11…

“I became an activist in the run-up to the war on Iraq. The Bush administration’s battle cry was transparently depraved and indifferent to facts or anti-war protests. Mainstream media became obsessed with Islam and Muslims even before the War on Terror hit its stride. They dispensed images and soundbites surreal in their exaggerated reincarnations, ripped from their political contexts, and glued to the air we were breathing. It became hard to read the news or negotiate a cultural milieu choked by anti-Muslim bigotry.” More here.

The Warp & Weft – Fifth Set of Stories

4 new stories from the Warp & Weft including a poem by Shadia Nilforoush, a story about ableism, isolation and risk-taking by Luticha A Doucette, a story from Belgium by Pascale Lorette, and another about the importance of touch by Roberta Schwartz Arlo Baldo. Finally, a beautiful response to the archive by Kirin Makker. Listen, read, engage with art and stories from the human family here.

Repost from Rochester Contemporary Art Center:

Head over to maraahmedstudio.com and listen to the newest stories from The Warp & Weft archive!

An Identity in Tendrils by Shadia Heenan Nilforoush
Chota Bhai, my baby brother
His skin is four shades – possibly seven – darker than mine. [Photo: Luke Seward]

Risk by Luticha Andre Doucette
In the beforetimes, I took a risk. Social isolation is not something that is new to me as a disabled person. When I think back on the course of my life, the majority of it has been spent in isolation. This isolation is due to no fault of my own, it is just a function of ableism in this country. [Photo: Erica Jae]

Coronavirus, l’épidémie à nos portes par Pascale Lorette
Coronavirus, the epidemic at our doorstep by Pascale Lorette: I should also mention those magical moments, every evening at 8 p.m., throughout Belgium, when we would meet at our windows or on our terraces to applaud healthcare workers. What beautiful sharing, what an emotion! [Artwork: Sam Sam]

It’s About The Touch by Roberta Schwartz
While sewing those masks made from delicately woven fabric as filmy as a cobweb, I felt the presence of the Jewish tailors and seamstresses who came before me in my family, and the textile workers in Hebron, who struggle to survive. [Photo: Adam Eaton]

Touch by Kirin Makker: An artistic response to the archive

The Warp & Weft is a multilingual archive of stories that seeks to capture the 2020 zeitgeist. The archive is curated by interdisciplinary artist and activist filmmaker @mara__ahmed. A set of new stories will be released each week via RoCo and Mara’s social media, during the course of ‘Last Year on Earth.’

Artist Coalition Announces 10-week “Strike” Against MoMA

“We refuse to acknowledge the separation of the museum from the rest of society,” the group says. “We see MoMA as existing on the same plane as the violence of the ruling class that has controlled it…As MoMA winds down and we extract our imagination from its orbit, our energies, resources and labor power will be freed up for creating alternatives in its place,” the group adds. “Alternatives controlled by workers and communities, not billionaires and their enablers. This could be a first step for a city-wide process.” — yes, please! More here.

The Warp & Weft – Fourth Set of Stories

4 new warp & weft stories today including one from gaza (palestine) by Ashwaq Auf, one from the gambia by Khadee’ja Fatty, another from toronto by way of london by Amra Jamal-Ahmad, and one about healing the collective body by Michael Boucher. finally a beautiful poetic response to the archive by Andrea Anderson Gluckman. pls read and listen.

Repost from Rochester Contemporary Art Center:

Head over to maraahmedstudio.com and listen to the newest stories from The Warp & Weft archive!

Harsher Than War by Ashwaq Abualoof
The feeling of being isolated from the outside world because we live in the cage of the Gaza Strip has become a feeling of impenetrability, as if we are immune to the spread of the coronavirus. [Photo: Soltan Khaled]

Pay It Forward by Kaddijatou Fatty
My keen interest in the performing arts, as a tool for social development in The Gambia, has motivated me to pursue training in the arts. Since 2011, I have received intensive training in acting, speech and voice production, singing, stage management and scriptwriting. I have discovered that the arts are a much more effective means of communicating with people, especially when working with children and youths.

Wistful While I Work by Amra Jamal-Ahmad
I have been a commuter for my entire working life. That’s 32 years of trains, subway trains and buses getting me to my job in the city. For 27 years that city was London, England, and now since 2016, it is Toronto, Canada.

Our Body is Trying to Heal by Mike Boucher
I have been reflecting on healing and hope in recent years, in part because my work as a social worker and counselor immerses me in this conversation on a daily basis. [Photo: Lynne Boucher]

“wadi” by andrea a. gluckman: A poetic response to the archive

Listen to/read the full stories here.

The Warp & Weft is a multilingual archive of stories that seeks to capture the 2020 zeitgeist. The archive is curated by interdisciplinary artist and activist filmmaker @maraahmed. A set of new stories will be released each week via RoCo and Mara’s social media, during the course of ‘Last Year on Earth.’

haseena moin (1941-2021)

pakistani playwright and screenwriter haseena moin has passed away. tv shows she wrote like ‘tanhayiaan’ and ‘dhoop kinaray’ will always be a part of my childhood (and that of an entire generation of pakistanis). although i didn’t like some of the detours in her writing and most of the comic relief, i appreciated the strong and complex female protagonists she created. that a woman who was born in 1941 was one of the most popular, enduring, and beloved scriptwriters and storytellers in pakistan at a time when there was only one tv channel and no internet, tells one how much power she commanded. many of her lines and characters figured prominently in popular culture and opened people’s eyes to women who were independent, funny, eccentric and in charge of their narratives. feels like the end of an era. may she rest in peace.

The Debt We Owe Edward Said

Kaleem Hawa: “Edward Said was our prince,” the Egyptian novelist Ahdaf Soueif recently said in a conversation reflecting on the Palestinian public intellectual’s life and writings. An incomparable thinker, Said is credited with founding postcolonial studies, penning histories of cultural representation and “the Other,” and, in so doing, upending the Anglo-American academy. His Orientalism, published in 1978, is among the most cited books in modern history, by some accounts above Marx’s Capital and Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. Throughout decades of essays, books, and reviews, Said showed his care for form and the structures of feeling, seeing in their examination a means of understanding music, literature, the world, and Palestine, his home.

Said was many other things—a critic, a dandy, a narcissist, a mentor, a polemicist, and a singular wit. In 1995’s Peace and Its Discontents—the first of his books intended for an Arab audience—Said describes the Oslo Accords as a “degrading spectacle of Yasser Arafat thanking everyone for what amounted to a suspension of his people’s rights,” shrouded in the “fatuous solemnity of Bill Clinton’s performance, like a twentieth century Roman empire shepherding two vassal knights through rituals of reconciliation and obeisance.” The Palestinian leader for decades, Arafat would come to ban Said’s books in the West Bank and Gaza, a result of Said’s early positions in support of the one-state solution and his criticisms of Oslo.

Said’s commitment to the liberation of the Palestinian people made him enemies closer to home as well. Late in his life, and after 9/11, Said felt isolated by his American friends and colleagues, as if they had “suddenly discovered they were imperialists after all, and had turned themselves into mouthpieces for the status quo,” as he said in one of his final interviews, filmed by English documentarian Mike Dibb in 2003, just a few months before leukemia would take Said’s life. After being faced with the capricious nature of American letters, Said found solace among Arabs.
Many who opposed Said’s political commitments to Palestine spent years attempting to tear him down, and those who owe a debt to him as a person and a scholar have had to rely on private conversations and his own enormous œuvre to contest those depictions. Timothy Brennan, an author and professor who was Said’s former graduate student and a close friend, has attempted to change that with Places of Mind, his biography of Said.

As the reviews of the book have come in, though, it has been dispiriting to see a procession of white writers get Said wrong. Dwight Garner, in his review for The New York Times, “A Study of Edward Said, One of the Most Interesting Men of His Time,” seems to find every possible thing interesting about Said except his identity as a Palestinian, devoting more lines to Said’s sex life than his views on the liberation of his own people. This reflects Garner’s paper’s own treatment of Said when he was alive (The New York Times Book Review published Said 10 times, zero times on Palestine) and echoes its consistent overlooking of Palestinian voices—publishing almost 2,500 op-eds on Palestine since 1970, with only 46 authored by Palestinians. This recent review only furthers something white critics have always misunderstood about Said: In treating his Palestinian identity as a curiosity rather than an animating feature of his life and work, they miss how generative the experiences of the (albeit privileged) colonial subject were to the writing of Orientalism (or Beginnings, Covering Islam, and The Question of Palestine, for that matter). These currents are convincingly traced in Brennan’s intellectual history.

In our conversation, Brennan discusses Said’s literary influences, his relationship to Marxism, his views on the growing movement to boycott Israel, his friendship with anti-war leader Eqbal Ahmed, and his experiences with the New York media. More here.