panel discussion on Islamophobia and Being Muslim in America

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Filmmaker's Panel on Islamophobia, Being Muslim in America

Pakistani American filmmaker Mara Ahmed will speak on a panel with Hampshire and Smith faculty and screen her film about the partition of India

Hampshire’s Creative Writing Program, South Asian Studies, the Eqbal Ahmad Initiative, and their cosponsors announce “Islamophobia and Its Discontents,” a panel discussion, on Wednesday April 5, at 6 p.m. in the West Lecture Hall, Franklin Patterson Hall. It will feature Pakistani American filmmaker Mara Ahmed, whose talk is titled “Being Muslim in America.” She will be joined by Professors George Fourlas (philosophy), of Hampshire, who will address Islamophobia as racism, and Mehammed Mack (French and comparative literature), Smith College, who will speak on Islamophobia in France.

The next day, Thursday, April 6, at 5:30 p.m., also in the West Lecture Hall, Ahmed will present her most recent film, A Thin Wall — which she wrote and directed — about memory, history, and the possibility of reconciliation. It focuses on the partition of India, in 1947, but its lessons remain urgently relevant today.

Shot on both sides of the border, in India and Pakistan, A Thin Wall is a personal take on partition rooted in stories passed down from one generation to another. Ahmed and Surbhi Dewan, a coproducer, are descendants of families torn apart by the partition. The film is also a work of art infused with original animation, music, and lyrical writing.

A Thin Wall was screened in May 2015 at the Bradford Literature Festival, United Kingdom. It was invited to be shown at film festivals in San Francisco, Seattle, New York, Montreal, and Dublin, and was screened in Vancouver, London, Brussels, and Amsterdam.

Linda Moroney, director of Greentopia Film, in Rochester, N.Y., wrote, “A Thin Wall is akin to a beautiful and powerful book of essays: many voices sharing poetic, personal, and political stories and viewpoints, woven together to convey a universal aching. It is a textural and tangible journey that captures a profound sense of loss for more than one generation. May we all embrace the lessons this film has to offer.”

The event is sponsored by Hampshire’s Creative Writing Program, South Asian Studies Program, the Eqbal Ahmad Initiative, the School of Critical Social Inquiry, the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Education, the Law Program, and Third World Studies.

For more information, contact Uzma Khan, Hampshire assistant professor of fiction writing, email

Interview on Voice of America

Ahmed’s Ted Talk: TEDxRochester

Review in Rochester’s City Newspaper

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