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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