Saturday, September 3, 2011

New Book: Taking Liberties: The War on Terror and the Erosion of American Democracy

Taking Liberties: The War on Terror and the Erosion of American Democracy
Product Description
In this eye-opening work, the president of the ACLU takes a hard look at the human and social costs of the War on Terror. A decade after 9/11, it is far from clear that the government's hastily adopted antiterrorist tactics--such as the Patriot Act--are keeping us safe, but it is increasingly clear that these emergency measures in fact have the potential to ravage our lives--and have already done just that to countless Americans.

From the Oregon lawyer falsely suspected of involvement with terrorism in Spain to the former University of Idaho football player arrested on the pretext that he was needed as a "material witness" (though he was never called to testify), this book is filled with unsettling stories of ordinary people caught in the government's dragnet. These are not just isolated mistakes in an otherwise sound program, but demonstrations of what can happen when our constitutional protections against government abuse are abandoned. Whether it's running a chat room, contributing to a charity, or even urging a terrorist group to forego its violent tactics, activities that should be protected by the First Amendment can now lead to prosecution. Blacklists and watchlists keep people grounded at airports and strand American citizens abroad, although these lists are rife with errors--errors that cannot be challenged. National Security Letters allow the FBI to demand records about innocent people from libraries, financial institutions, and internet service providers without ever going to court. Government databanks now brim with information about every aspect of our private lives, while efforts to mount legal challenges to these measures have been stymied.

Barack Obama, like George W. Bush, relies on secrecy and exaggerated claims of presidential prerogative to keep the courts and Congress from fully examining whether these laws and policies are constitutional, effective, or even counterproductive. Democracy itself is undermined. This book is a wake-up call for all Americans, who remain largely unaware of the post-9/11 surveillance regime's insidious and continuing growth.
  Recommended by Justin Benavidez

NYT Op-Ed: Don’t Fear Islamic Law in America

Thursday, September 1, 2011

New Book: Terrifying Muslims: Race and Labor in the South Asian Diaspora by Junaid Rana

Terrifying Muslims is a timely and necessary project, one that makes important interventions into both U.S. ethnic studies and South Asian studies. Junaid Rana persuasively shows that the current War on Terror and the Islamophobia that buttresses it can only be understood through a long historical view that situates current migrations in relation to colonial forms of labor exploitation such as slavery and indentureship.”—Gayatri Gopinath, author of Impossible Desires: Queer Diasporas and South Asian Public Cultures 
“Junaid Rana’s Terrifying Muslims is a road map against Islamophobia. Muslim migrants do not travel to erect minarets alone. They come because their homelands are wrecked by transnational capital, they come in search of work and dignity; their presence signals only this, and not some cataclysmic story of the clash of civilizations. Rana rehabilitates the ordinariness of migration in the context of forces that insist on making the migrant extraordinary. Crucial reading for terrible times.”—Vijay Prashad, author of The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World 
“This book is an important, innovative, and much-needed intervention into current debates about migration, globalization, the War on Terror, Muslim identities, racialization, and labor. It offers a transnational analysis connecting South Asia, the Middle East, and the United States, as well as an astute framework linking questions of religion, race, class, sovereignty, and gender. In addition, it fills a glaring gap in Asian American and South Asian studies, where there has been little research on the Pakistani diaspora.”—Sunaina Marr Maira, author of Missing: Youth, Citizenship, and Empire after 9/11 
Product Description 
Terrifying Muslims highlights how transnational working classes from Pakistan are produced, constructed, and represented in the context of American empire and the recent global War on Terror. Drawing on ethnographic research that compares Pakistan, the Middle East, and the United States before and after 9/11, Junaid Rana combines cultural and material analyses to chronicle the worldviews of Pakistani labor migrants as they become part of a larger global racial system. At the same time, he explains how these migrants’ mobility and opportunities are limited by colonial, postcolonial, and new imperial structures of control and domination. He argues that the contemporary South Asian labor diaspora builds on and replicates the global racial system consolidated during the period of colonial indenture. Rana maintains that a negative moral judgment attaches to migrants who enter the global labor pool through the informal economy. This taint of the illicit intensifies the post-9/11 Islamophobia that collapses varied religions, nationalities, and ethnicities into the threatening racial figure of “the Muslim.” It is in this context that the racialized Muslim is controlled by a process that beckons workers to enter the global economy, and stipulates when, where, and how laborers can migrate. The demonization of Muslim migrants in times of crisis, such as the War on Terror, is then used to justify arbitrary policing, deportation, and criminalization. 
Terrifying Muslims: Race and Labor in the South Asian Diaspora

via Maryam and Dustin

Glenn Greenwald: Omitted facts from the 9/11 commemoration

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Ron Gutman: The hidden power of smiling

Check out this video on YouTube:

Classes for Fall 2011

Legal & Philosophical Approaches to Islam (2 Credits)

In this course, we will study the legal and methodological approaches of Islam covering the time span beginning with the period of Quranic revelation up to the dawn of colonial modernity. Beginning with the historical development of Islamic law, we will examine the legal content of Islam and its methodology, paying special consideration to how the Islamic tradition is structured both legally and ethically. Students will become familiar with the history and major topics of Islamic law, the legal structure and content of Islamic Sunni jurisprudence, along with the main sources and general methods of Islamic legal discourse.

­Theories and Methods in the Study of Religion

We will explore fundamental theoretical and methodological issues for the academic study of religion, including some of the more important theories of the origin, character, and function of religion as a human phenomenon. We’ll cover psychological, sociological, anthropological, dialectical, post-colonial and feminist approaches. We will explore some problems for the study of religion today: secularization theory and the intersection of religion and media.

Sociology of Religion: Islam and The Modern World

This course is designed to explore the role of religion in modern societies. We will examine religion as an important social institution and also as a cultural system. We will study canonical and contemporary theories of religion. The focus of the course, however, will be Islam. We will look at the cultural context and historical construction of Islam, as well as the different social contexts within which Islam has evolved. We will examine the relationship between Islam and modernity, including secular ideologies, gender politics, and modern democracy. We will pay particular attention to the role that Islam plays in the everyday life of those who practice it, who are affected by it, or who struggle with it as their tradition. Our goal is to study Islam not as a fixed object or authentic tradition but as a social and cultural phenomenon subject to change, contestation, and critique. Texts may include Mernissi, Islam and Democracy; Arkoun, Re-Thinking Islam; Fernea, In Search of Islamic Feminism; and Armstrong, Islam.

Black Intellectual Thought in the Atlantic World

This course examines the foundations, implementations, and implications of intellectual thought(s) of the African diaspora from the period of slavery in the Americas and post-emancipation societies through the present. Arguably, black intellectualism maintains roots in African-descended religious and cultural societies that pre-dates slavery in the West, however, this seminar seeks to explore the emergence of critical thought through historical, sociological, literary, autobiographical, religious and ethnographic writing that addressed vital issues facing African-descended peoples in the modern world. The matrix of race, class and gender has been a useful lens to analyze the systems and structures in place that both benefited and impeded racial progress. Yet, the themes of migration, nationalism, humor, music and empire-building also serve as essential tools to untangling and mapping the roots and routes of black intellectualism on four continents. Through a diverse set of materials (primary documents, films, music, and art) that utilize a multimedia and interdisciplinary approach to a range of historical, literary, political and economic questions central to Afro-diasporic experience(s), this course will critically engage the writings of thinkers who were at the vanguard of the Afro-modern and theoretical world, such as Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Du Bois, Anna Julia Cooper, Arturo Schomburg, Richard Wright, C.L.R. James, Aimé Césaire, Frantz Fanon, Paule Marshall, and Angela Davis.

Topics in South Asian History

This course introduces students to the society, culture, and economy of modern India---from the foundation of British colonial rule in the late eighteenth century to the nationalist struggle in the early twentieth century to the immediate post-colonial era—through the lens of broader issues in historical and cultural inquiry. We will examine shifts in society, economy, and culture during the modern period from different perspectives: British colonial agents, religious groups, the middle and educated classes, women and peasants, and the many-faceted struggle for independence before and during the period of Gandhi’s entry into nationalist politics. Secondary sources will be read in conjunction with primary sources that speak to the central issues explored: colonial state formation, the relationship between cultural and economic transformations, political identities and nationalism, collective memory and violence, and the political economy of development.

Cornel West Op-Ed in the NYT: Dr. King Weeps From His Grave

via Khalid via Abdul Basit

Warren Buffett: Stop Coddling the Super-Rich (August 15, 2011)

via Iram

Ramadan Special: A Conversation with Habib Umar bin Hafiz

"Injustice, however, is not abstract."

We now all live in a kind of Third World, a world where freely shared knowledge is fast becoming an endangered species, owing to patent developments and intellectual property law, a world where class disparities are salient. [...] Our scholarship is, I believe, increasingly commensurate with the corporatization of universities, not just in the United States but worldwide. This is a time when big business is in everybody's business, a time when self-censorship is becoming ingrained, a development that encourages potential critical thinkers to move away from the concrete toward the abstract. Injustice, however, is not abstract.
-Laura Nader, The Life of the Law, pg. 6.

(from Faiz's library)