Not Acting as Prescribed: Zaira Wasim and Our Discomfort with Religion

In July 2019, 18-year old Kashmiri-born, award-winning Muslim actor Zaira Wasim wrote a detailed post on Facebook announcing her intention to withdraw from acting. The post began in a way that is familiar to a lot of people midway in their careers across the world – she talks about starting something five years ago (a career in the Hindi film industry), gradually realising that it is not for her and of the pressure on her to become someone else.

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British Muslims, Cultural Freedom, Political Dissent, and the Counter-Extremism Industry: Some brief reflections on “Bradford in Our Own Words: Resisting Counter-Extremism Apparatus”

On a sweltering Sunday afternoon (30 June 2019), a hundred or so people, mostly young, were packed in together at the Speakers Corner Collective [1] on Ivygate in the centre of Bradford. They came to discuss the withdrawal from the Bradford Literature Festival 2019 by a number of writers, artists and speakers.[2] This withdrawal was sparked by the news that a pre-festival project promoting the literacy and education of British Pakistani women had been funded by a Home Office counter-extremism fund, established in 2016, called Building a Stronger Britain Together (BSBT).

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White Women, Muslims and the Nation

On March 15, 2019, a white supremacist walked into two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand and shot and killed 50 Muslims. All over the world, vigils to mourn the dead were quickly organized to bring together communities in shock. In New York City, two NYU students, Leen Dweik and Rose Asaf, were present at a local vigil for the Muslim victims, as was Chelsea Clinton.

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Of Sea Walls and Rising Rides: Critical Race/Religion Readings of ‘White Crisis’ in Science Fiction Dystopia Part 3 of 3

I now want to turn attention to the phenomenon of ‘White Crisis’. However, I should first clarify how I am using the term whiteness which goes beyond its association with epidermal considerations. In this connection, I draw upon the sociological exploration of whiteness due to Garner (2007, 2010a, 2010b) – specifically, (1) his processual understanding of whiteness as a phenomenon existing in dynamic relational-tension to other racialized identities, (2) the function of whiteness as a tacit invisible background standard, and (3) the socio-political manifestation of whiteness as a persistent, yet contested, globally-systemic structure, viz. white supremacy, a position he derives from Mills (1997).

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Of Sea Walls and Rising Rides: Critical Race/Religion Readings of ‘White Crisis’ in Science Fiction Dystopia Part 2 of 3

Notwithstanding the soundness of the line of critique summarised in my previous blog post, I suggest that it falls short insofar as there is a lack of critical interrogation of what I perceive to be the tacit liberal logics of ‘inclusion’ and ‘diversity’ at work in referring to the whiteness of casting roles and the attendant lack of non-white representation in such media productions.

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Of Sea Walls and Rising Rides: Critical Race/Religion Readings of ‘White Crisis’ in Science Fiction Dystopia Part 1 of 3

In October of last year, I attended the screening of director Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049, the long-awaited sequel to Ridley Scott’s dystopian science fiction classic, Blade Runner (1982). Both films were co-written by Hampton Fancher and inspired by Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968). Just for the record, I find the screenplays written by Fancher and his collaborators far more engaging than Dick’s novel, and this tends to be the case with so many other of his works including, for example, The Man in The High Castle (1962).

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