Sunday, February 27, 2005

cat in the books

I have been staying home reading and writing for the past few days. Despite all the temptations, I have tried to discipline myself (god knows I need a lot of that!) and haven't done much in the world of blogging. Sepeed (my cat) has decided to change her favorite spot. Now she sits on the first shelf of one of the bookshelves in the living room. I think this is her way of telling me that I am not alone in this... She is being very scholastic these days!


Wednesday, February 23, 2005

"free" press

I am working on a paper and am stressing out as the deadline gets closer. I took a break and read this article in Le Monde diplomatique about deregulating media ownership. Interesting...

This month the Federal Communications Commission, despite sharp party-affiliated divisions, voted to relax key media ownership restrictions in the United States, permitting greater concentration of companies. The once admired standards of American journalism have been shamed by scandals at the New York Times and by over-close, compliant relationships with political power before, during and after the war in Iraq.

back to my paper :-/


Tuesday, February 22, 2005

February Blues

I am feeling pretty helpless today. Another earthquake kills hundreds in villages around Zarand... (Yahoo's 42 is a typo. Over 500 bodies have been found so far).
Scott Ritter says Bush has signed papers to bomb Iran in June...
And dialogues have started between the U.S. and Sunni nationalist groups in Iraq who see Iran as backing the Shia in Iraq...

Sad day.


Saturday, February 19, 2005

expert testimony

A representative of the Committee on the Present Danger, along with two other "experts" ( a Columbia professor and the executive director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center) testified in front a House hearing on Thursday. What did they testify about? Policy towards Iran. According to the National Iranian American Council, this summarizes what these experts have said: "Iranian People Are Our Allies, Pressure on Regime Needed, Experts Testify at House Hearing!"

These all sound good, but one needs to read the testimonies to know why the issue is less glorious than it sounds in NIAC's headline. I have written a lengthy post about this on No War on Iran, so I won't repeat what I've said. But, you may find this flier from the Committee on the Present Danger amusing!


Wednesday, February 16, 2005

The Task Force on Middle East Anthropology

This may be of interest to anthropologists who work on the Middle East. Sounds interesting...

The Task Force on Middle East Anthropology
The Task Force on Middle East Anthropology is a group of progressive scholars, mostly graduate students and junior faculty, working on the Middle East and Islam who seek broader dissemination and critical applications of Middle East anthropological knowledge within the AAA, the academy, and the media. Our foundational premise is that anthropologists can and should become public intellectuals and engage the public sphere and politics. We believe that there is not only an opportunity, but a necessity, for academics to engage the public through a variety of media. It is crucial that people who have had actual experience working, researching, and living with people in Middle Eastern societies and their diasporas make their knowledge and expertise more relevant and accessible to the media, politicians, and the voting public.
The Time is NOW

Here are some of the projects that the Task Force has been involved with and which it hopes to develop further:·
teaching workshops (for anthropology instructors, teachers of K-12) to help educators integrate materials from/on the Middle East into their curricula ·
AAA resolutions on Iraq, civil liberties, academic freedom, and Palestine·
media symposium to (1) create a coalition of academics, activists, and media professionals committed to helping the public understand Middle Eastern and Islamic societies through anthropological knowledge and insight; (2) enable anthropologists to be more media savvy. Give them the tools for making the presentation of their information more palatable to the media; and (3) provide media professionals with a basis of the kinds of concrete anthropological knowledge of Middle Eastern cultures that is available to them to enhance their coverage of the region·
Radical History Review article on Middle East academics and the government· Anthropology Newsletter columns·
listserve creation and discussion·
coordination with other AAA sections (Committee for Human Rights, public policy and government relations, etc.) in drafting letters to government officials, reports, statements. I
t’s Time to be Pragmatic
The time is right to take advantage of the public’s willingness to listen to a wider range of viewpoints than those currently being provided by mainstream media. We need to develop a clear working structure and set of strategies that will enable us to insert Middle East anthropology productively into public discourse.

If this project interests you, please email us with a brief description of your background, areas of interest, and reasons for wanting to become involved with the Task Force.
Lori Allen:
Lara Deeb: ldlists@yahoo.com


Bush lies people die

See story in Yahoo. Link form Iranian.com


Tuesday, February 15, 2005

No cat fights here...

Nima Kasraie has posted an anti-war Persian cat on Iranian.com. I thought the American short-hair on No War on Iran and the Persian cat could make a statement together... I am not intending to take away from the seriousness of the issue or to minimize the material effects of war on real people, but everybody needs some humor some times...


Monday, February 14, 2005

Logo and IAAB Conference

Alireza Doostdar has made this logo for No War on Iran. If you support the site and would like to put the logo on your blog, get the code from Alireza's blog.

IAAB (Iranian Alliances Across Borders) is holding its second International conference on Iranian diaspora in Maryland. I am presenting at the IAAB conference this year. Here is the schedule.

Even as I am trying to resist the consumer culture that arbitrarily designates one day out of the whole year for the expression of love, I have to admit that I am a sucker for these symbolic gestures. Happy Valentine's day!


Saturday, February 12, 2005

Muslims and gay marriage in Canada

This is New Yorker's article about the "extraordinary rendition" program that outsources torture. It is scary and eye-opening.
I read in Women Living Under Muslim Laws today that the Muslim Canadian Congress endorses same-sex marriage legislation. Rizwana Jafri, president of the MCC said Muslim Canadians have experienced life as a marginalized minority and have relied on the Canadian Charter to fight for their right to be treated as equal citizens. "It is incumbent upon us, as a minority, to stand up in solidarity with Canada’s gays and lesbians despite the fact that many in our community believe our religion does not condone homosexuality," she added.


Dave Lindorff has written about the demise of academic freedom. He writes, "amid all the controversy over the observations of University of Colorado professor and leftist Indian political activist Ward Churchill concerning the military justifiability of the 9-11 attacks on the World Trade Center, it's easy to overlook the fact that freedom of academic expression on American university campuses is already virtually dead."
The culture of fear that has taken over campuses, do in fact make junior faculty very vulnerable. That is why it is important to have more politically progressive people in senior faculty positions. Speaking of senior faculty positions, I went to a great job-talk on Thursday. In a part of her talk, the speaker pointed to the civilizational thinking that characterizes area studies today. Her critical approach to universities as political sites of production of knowledge reminded me that in the midst of the return of McCarthyism, there is still hope for academic dissent. What else can we do if we are not hopeful?


Wednesday, February 09, 2005

going beyond liberal dissent

The following is the Mission statement that we at No War on Iran have posted on our anti-war group-blog. If you haven't visited No War on Iran yet, give it a visit (and of course the other great anti-war blog, Iranians for Peace). No War on Iran also contains a great project where you can send your pictures to express your opposition to war. Some folks have said that the images are too confrontational or "rude." But, I think we need to be aware of ways of regulation that compel us to behave in certain ways and expect us to discipline ourselves (in Foucault's words, the "government of self"). The expectation of "respecting a country's president" is perhaps one of these liberal techniques of self government. I personally see these images as ways for people whose voices are often suppressed in mainstream media, to express themselves and to voice their dissent. Telling Bush and his ilk to stop their expansionist militaristic projects does not reinforce stereotypes of being a terrorist. If we interpret the image of an Iranian man holding a sign that reads "Dear U.S. Troops: Better not come for oil. This time it ain't that easy" as a "threat to Americans," then we really need to question how we are thinking about terms such as "threat" and "terror." By calling this message a "threat to Americans," we are doing the work for a state that has imposed maximal surveillance in the name of protecting Americans from the threat of terrorism. We are governing ourselves and others by repeating the racist significations of terror and threat.
In any case, the statement below may explain our theoretical approach to war.

Posted by NoWarOnIran!
The escalated public discourse about a possible military attack on Iran has alarmed many Iranians in Iran and its diaspora. As Iranians who are concerned about the implications of a war on our country, we have created this weblog to build a platform for preemptive dissent. In addition to our concerns about the fatalities of war, we are also troubled by the suppression of dissent in the U.S. and in Iran, and believe that war profoundly perpetuates civil repression.
Recent history has shown that the U.S. ratification of international laws does not prevent it from pursuing its expansionist project. For this reason, we do not rule out the possibility of a military attack on Iran. We recognize that transnational networks of power, including the media, corporations, fundamentalist movements, and non-governmental organizations, reveal the inadequacy of the "international" model. Therefore, we suggest an analysis that is attentive to the global phenomena that characterize the so called "war on terror."
It is clear to us that the post 9/11 crusade of the United States relies on a Manichean and colonial logic that situates "Western freedom and democracy" in opposition to "Islamic backwardness and tyranny." We resist such discursive binary constructions that reproduce colonial legacies, and instead locate these forms of knowledge-production within the gendered and raced global capitalist relations. We question the taken-for-granted notions of terror, freedom, democracy, and fundamentalism, by pointing to the contradictions that mark hegemonic usage of such tropes.
The current contributors of No War on Iran come from different disciplines and backgrounds. However, we are committed to the analytical approaches that we have highlighted above and strongly refuse to become complicit with discourses that legitimize war in the name of "liberty" and "democracy."
For a couple of weeks, I will be updating my blog less often. I have an important deadline and need to stay away from the world of blogging (or limit it to reading other people's blogs). I will probably post links to articles, but won't be writing much. That is if I can beat my blog addiction!


Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Can I have a receipt for my persecution, please?!

A requirement in the "Real ID Act of 2005" requires many asylum seekers to provide supporting evidence from the very governments they are fleeing! Such an oxymoron...
Read ACLU's action alert about this bizarre legislation proposed by James Sensenbrenner, the House Judiciary Committee Chairman.
In today's NY Times, I read this Op-Ed by Shirin Ebadi and Hadi Ghaemi. They have taken a human rights approach to express their opposition to war. It's good to see many people voice their opposition from different angles.


Sunday, February 06, 2005

Mirror, anyone?

The last time I checked, Mujahideen-e Khalq was a terrorist organization. Now it seems to be in alliance with the U.S.! Ironic, isn't it? We are fighting terrorism by sponsoring terrorism! But this is not news to us, is it now? Remember Taliban? Remember Mujahideen of Afghanistan? Yes, the U.S. gave them arms, money, and training. Fundamentalist Saudi Wahhabis (who by the way, with the help of Aramco had brought Al-e Saud to power in the first place), led by Bin Laden and trained by the CIA were sent to Afghanistan in the 80s to fight the Soviet forces. Was anyone concerned about the Afghani women then? But it was the Afghani women in whose name we legitimized the war in Afghanistan (and yes, we wanted to "smoke" Osama out!)
And now, is anyone concerned about the tyranny of which a brutal group like mujahideen-e khalgh is capable?
Really, who are we kidding? If we are after the terrorist states, shall I hold up a mirror now?

This is a fantastic article by Samira about Bush's State of Union Address.


Saturday, February 05, 2005

Rumsfeld is pushing for the revitalization of nuclear infrastructure and has announced that he supports the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator study. $10.3 million is being proposed in this year's budget to restart this study...
American Democracy is starting to sound a lot like hypocrisy!
Alireza has written about the Nuclear weapons and the decoupling of people and the state. Read it on No War on Iran.


Friday, February 04, 2005

Get the f... out!

I just heard the Secretary of state, Rice, talk about the Iranian elections on the news. She said something about "people's right to choose" and the "basic principles" of election!!! Why is that all of a sudden, the U.S. finds it to be its business to interfere with the Iranian elections?! And the Bush administration should know better than telling others about the basic principles of "elections"!!! As they say in Farsi" deeg beh deeg migeh root siyaast!"
Alireza Doostdar has started a scrapbook on the No War on Iran weblog. If you want to post your photos with an anti-war message on the scrapbook, send them to info@nowaroniran.com.


Thursday, February 03, 2005

Important matters

Not feeling too well does not help when one has so much to do. I wanted to go to As'ad Abu Khalil's talk, but by the time I got back to Berkeley from Palo Alto (a commute that is not very pleasant during the rush-hour traffic!) I was too tired to focus.
But I could not skip this post, as I cannot believe that I have not given a link to a very important group-blog yet. No War on Iran started its activity a couple of days ago. Alireza Doostdar, Niki Akhavan, Daryoush Mohammad Poor, and I are writing our thoughts about war on this group-blog. Alireza is an extremely bright person who came up with the idea of this blog and has done a great job with setting it up.
I wrote about Iranians for Peace on February 1st. Soon after it was launched, a lot of people started posting their articles and photography on this great group-blog. I am so impressed by the team-work of the members of both blogs. It gives me hope to see the dedication of these young Iranians.
Another important matter: A very dear friend of mine has asked me to put this call for help on my blog. One of her friends (T), was diagnosed by cancer and needs to have an operation. Here is the text of the email that another one of T's friends, Farshid, has written:
Over the years our Iranian community in the Bay Area has gotteninvolved with many good causes. We have helped many in need -- fromearthquake, tsunami, and poverty victims to individuals fighting withdiseases, all around the world.This time we have one of our very own who is in dire need of help. A32 year old, Bay Area professional Persian female, a kind andgenerous soul who always helps others unselfishly, and an old dearfriend to me personally, is now fighting an advanced thyroid cancerwhich has dangerously spread in her body. She has a 4 cm tumor inher neck that must be removed immediately by means of a complexsurgery in Stanford Hospital.Unfortunately she does not have proper medical coverage for theoperation, the cost of which is estimated to be $150,000. She is indesparate and immediate need of funds so that she can proceed withthe operation.We have an opportunity to help her get her life back. I am writingto ask for your help in this matter. I hope you will all join me inhelping her out. Your donation will be greatly appreciated. And Iam certain that your good deed will be returned to you before long.
If you like to get more info and details about this, you may contact one of the following people: Jamileh Mokhlesi, to_jamm@yahoo.com
Farshid Ketabchi, farshidk@yahoo.com
Thank you,
I hope T feels better soon.


Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Ervand Abrahamian on War

Here is Ervand Abrahamian's take on war. Abrahamian is one of the prolific historians of modern Iran and many people know him for his book of social history, Iran Between Two Revolutions.
I am overwhelmed with everything I need to do and that is why I am being lazy and just giving a link to this article.
oh, and another link: As'ad Abu-Khalil, is speaking in the Antiwar Forum at UC Berkeley tomorrow, Thursday, Feb 3rd, at 8 PM. The event will take place in 126 Barrows, UC Berkeley. If you haven't seen his blog, Angry Arab, you may want to give him a visit.
This is starting to feel like I am hosting a bulletin board!


Tuesday, February 01, 2005

February and new beginnings

Today is a new beginning for many things: A group of us who don't know each other beyond the world of blogging have launched a group-blog called "Iranians for Peace." Take a look at it here.
Another beginning: Tonight, the class I am teaching on "Women in the Muslim and Arab Worlds" begins. I am very excited about it. The registered students list looks very interesting. People from all different disciplines are registered for this class. I took this class myself as an undergraduate in 1993, not knowing that this class was going to be one of the turning points of my life. I was a Physiology major then, and on a mission to become a medical doctor. This class and other Women Studies courses made me re-think my career path, and taught me to think beyond formulas and equations. To my surprise, my women's studies courses were a lot more challenging than my chemistry, physics, and biology ones. This time, I actually had to read! I remember before being introduced to the field of Women Studies, I was surprised to know that people go to college to study "women!" As a tutor in math, biology, and chemistry, I had asked one of my regular student visitors at the tutoring center- a young woman who was pursuing Women's Studies- what could possibly be so intriguing about studying women? It took the accident of "requirements" for me to learn the answer to this naive question. "Women and the Politics of Citizenship" was my first Women Studies class (a rewuirement of sorts), and "Women in the Muslim and Arab Worlds" was just what I needed to be intrigued enough to take more and more Women's studies courses. I graduated with a B.S.in Physiology, but ended up working in women's organizations in San Francisco for the next six years, before I went back to school again and got my M.A. in Women Studies. Being an anthropologist in training now, does not take away from my loyalty to Women Studies. It feels good to be back to the department in which I have so many memories and have learned so much.
Now that I have bored you guys with my biographical post, let me give you something more interesting to read. Paul Craig Roberts, the former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration, has written an article about civil liberties and the homeland security state. It is quite interesting. He writes,
"defenders of the new American police state emphasize that the government's new powers only apply to terrorists. This is disingenuous. The government decides who is a terrorist and does not need to present evidence to back its decision. The person on whom the arbitrary decision falls can be held indefinitely. This is a return to the pre-Magna Carta practice of executive arrest." Read the rest here.

My advisor at Stanford who is on the organizing committee of an event called "From 9066 to 9/11: Community and Identity in Wartime America" , has asked me to circulate this flier. I encourage those of you who are in the Bay Area to attend this great event.


The sidebar image is taken from Mahmoud Pakzad's "Old Tehran", Did Publishers, 1994. Thanks to Jahanshah Javid (www.iranian.com) for sharing it.

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