A Thousand Years of the Persian Book focuses on a millennium of Persian textual production, not just from Iran, but also from other corners of the Persian-speaking world. Today, the region includes countries such as Afghanistan, Tajikistan, parts of Uzbekistan (e.g. Samarkand and Bukhara), and even remote corners of Western China, but at one period, it also extended to the Indian subcontinent (where Persian enjoyed the status of the language of the court and the literati under the Mughals) and present-day Turkey. In his monumental work, The Venture of Islam: Conscience and History in a World Civilization, Marshall Hodgson defined the lands where ‘cultural traditions in Persian or reflecting Persian inspiration’ were prevalent as ‘Persianate’. Persianate traditions are not restricted to peoples of Persian descent or ethnicity, but rather embraced by those exposed to its influence. The expansive cultural topography, and more specifically, literary geography, are the focus of the exhibition at the Library, featuring texts produced by Iranians, Indians, Tajiks, Afghans, and Parsis (among others), all united by their attachment to a particular linguistic and aesthetic medium.

Read the full article here

"The people who dragged us into a war against Iraq and Libya want to drag us into a war against Syria as a run up to war against Iran. 

This is part of a long term strategy by Neo-Conservatives who I heard openly planning and promoting this madness to Congress throughout the past two decades. 

America’s decision makers must be very careful not to be suckered again (and again) into more wars.

Our intervention in Iraq destroyed that country’s defenses and helped to create ISIS. An attack on Syria would strengthen ISIS. 

It’s time to end US interventions. It’s time to take care of things here at home.” — Dennis Kucinich

See my interview on these issues: 

http://video.foxnews.com/v/3759968879001/a-look-back-at-obamas-decision-not-to-attack-syria/#sp=show-clips


From Afghanistan: The Long Withdrawal, one of 38 photos. Here, Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles wait in a staging area for onward movement at an undisclosed base in Southwest Asia. The joint team of Marines, soldiers, sailors and airmen of the Central Command’s Deployment Distribution Operations Center is playing a major role in moving the more than 50,000 coalition military vehicles in Afghanistan that will need to be recovered or pre-positioned in contingency stocks abroad. (U.S. Air Force/Senior Master Sgt. George Thompson)

anonymous said:

Hi! I'm sorry to bother, but I have a question. I have a friend who looks white (blonde, light skin, green eyes) but was actually born and raised in India by her Hindu parents. She practices Hinduism and only recently moved to the states. She still wears traditional clothing, but the other day she posted a picture of herself in her traditional clothes and got a lot of hate for it, people saying it was cultural appropriation. She's bummed out about it and is now questioning her ethnicity. Help?

1. All those people screaming cultural appropriation at her are ignoramuses who are basically saying, “Wow, you don’t look like my ill-informed, narrow-minded stereotype of what people from this region actually look like!” and “I actually subscribe to horrible, reductionist stereotypes that Indian people can only have dark hair, skin and eyes. Light hair? Green eyes? European (origin) only!” 

This is gonna be a tad long, because it’s gonna delve into biology and history- and it’s because I hope people realise how artificial the US paradigm of race is. It’s woefully incompetent at understanding the biological diversity of our species because it is a social construct. Modern scientists and historians generally refuse to categorise people on the amount of melanin they have because it’s just reductionist and oversimplistic- what they do is classify people by their geographic origin, linguistic and cultural ties. 

2. India is an EXTREMELY diverse country. The Indian subcontinent is so genetically diverse that the only place more genetically diverse is the African continent, aka, the birthplace of humanity. And this is a big deal. I’ll explain why.

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Surprise! People inhabiting an extremely large country that has more than 2000 ethnic groups, members of all the world’s religions, been the site of multiple ancient civilisations, been on the major crossroads of human migration and trade for thousands of years come in multiple colours!

  • Presently, the most widely-accepted theory of our origins is the Recent African Origin, or Out of Africa TheoryThis holds that originally, humans first appeared in Africa, thus all of us have African ancestors. All modern non-Africans are descended from much smaller groups of people who migrated out of Africa, anytime from 65,000 to 125,000 years ago. How do scientists know this? By looking at our DNA, in addition to fossil and archaeological records. They discovered that the differences in the DNA of non-African peoples like say, a German a Japanese and a New Zealand Maori was far less than the genetic differences between people from different African ethnic groups. (Somali, Dinka, Yoruba, San, Kikuyu, Luo etc- I’m BARELY scratching the surface)
  • What this meant was that Africa had to be the original, diverse genetic pool where modern humans first appeared. Everybody else outside of Africa today is descended from much smaller groups of people who left Africa at various times- and that ancestral genetic “bottleneck” is why people who appear to have very different heritage (e.g European vs East Asian) actually have far less genetic variation than the various African peoples.
  • So, India being the second most genetically diverse place on this planet is a big deal- it’s basically second only to THE CRADLE OF HUMANITY. That’s why I’m pretty convinced your friend can have blonde hair and green eyes and still be 100% Made in India.

3. Now, the genetics of India itself.

Genetic studies have shown that if you take a modern Indian from any part of India, no matter how dark or fair they are, his or her lineage will consist of mixing from two main ancestral groups. One is the Ancestral Northern Indians (ANI), and the other the Ancestral Southern Indians (ASI). You may have heard of the ancient Indian caste system which put a lot of social pressure that prohibited marrying outside your caste. Caste discrimination is banned today, but old attitudes do persist. However, even this caste rigidity wasn’t so 4000- 2000 years ago. ANI people married ASI pretty freely, so that’s why every modern Indian has heredity from both groups. So, already to start off, you got quite a fair bit of diversity hidden in people’s genes. 

  • And the next interesting part to explain why it IS possible for Indians to have features stereotyped as “European” is because while the ASI seemed to be genetically unique to the Indian subcontinent, the ANI people are genetically related to Middle-Easterns, Europeans and Caucasians (and I mean this not in the sense of “white” as often used in the US, but the actual region of Caucasus, which borders Europe and Asia).
  • You mentioned she looks “white”- and the American-understanding of “white” being hurled at her by those people screaming cultural appropriation are actually ignorantly treating “white” as synonymous with “European-origin”. In reality, it’s completely useless in the realm of biology. Biologically, there is actually no real dichotomy where “European” suddenly ends and “Asia” begins. 

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  • As I earlier pointed out, well, we’re all kinda related. And it’s not at all earth-shattering that some people from India look like they’re of “European-origin”. Because modern Europeans, Central Asians and the Ancestral Northern Indians are all believed to be descendants of a group of people called the Proto-Indo-Europeans. It’s believed they lived around 6000-7000 years ago. Some modern people that are descended from the Proto-Indo-Europeans are French, Germans, Iranians and Pashtuns (a major ethnic group in Afghanistan).  It’s even been found that Europeans and Indians shared a gene for fair skin from a common ancestor- which is why there ARE people who look like your friend. Naturally, fair skin is just relatively rarer in India vs Europe because more parts of India are located in hotter regions. Therefore, there’s more selection pressure for darker skin which has more melanin to protect from the sun- making fair skin rarer, but still possible. 

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(This is a map of the Kurgan Hypothesis, which is currently the most popular theory for how the Proto-Indo-Europeans migrated from their homeland to settle Europe, Central Asia, Iran, India and Turkey etc)

  • Saying Indians are descendants of the Proto-Indo-Europeans is NOT the same as saying they’re of “European origin”. For example, think of the Proto-Indo-Europeans as like the “mother” of Europeans, Central Asians and the Ancestral Northern Indians- they’re like “sibling” groups, not descendants. The original Indo-Europeans were not “European” in the modern sense. I am clarifying this because plenty of colonial-era scientific racism tried to attribute ancient India’s achievements to “European who left Europe for India”- you might have heard the phrase “Aryan” thrown around in Nazi Germany, which was used to mean “blonde hair, blue eyes”. Nazi scientists and historians also abused it to explain away the sophistication of non-European civilisations in Ancient Egypt and India. In reality, ”Aryan” is derived from the ancient Sanskrit word “Arya" which means "noble". Sanskrit is an ancient language still used in classical Indian texts, and is of Proto-Indo-European origin. For example, the name of the country “Iran” actually means “land of the Aryans”- it was the name ancient Iranians (another people descended from the Proto-Indo-Europeans) gave to what others called the Persian Empire for more than a thousand years before the Third Reich. 

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(Sanskrit manuscript)

  • Furthermore, many languages we often separate as “European” and “Asian” like German, English, French, Italian vs. Hindi, Farsi (Persian), Gujarati, Punjabi, Pashto, Sanskrit etc are ALL classified by linguists as belonging to the same Indo-European language family- which all evolved from the original language the Proto-Indo-Europeans spoke. See how artificial the Europe/Asia dichotomy really is, in terms of human genetics and origin of cultures? 

4. Finally- there’s plenty of modern proof that the region we call Europe today does NOT have a monopoly on producing people with blonde hair, fair skin and green eyes.

This is Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, a popular Indian Bollywood actress who is also known for her striking blue-green eyes. She’s 100% Indian- she was born in Mangalore, India to Indian parents. 

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This is a couple at their wedding- the lady on the left is Indian, from the Southern Indian city of Hyderabad. Her husband is Ethiopian.

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This is a photo of a boy and a woman who is likely his mother, taken in Turkey.

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This is a girl from Darfur, Sudan- an area that has more than 30 ethnic groups.

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This is a Nuristani girl. The Nuristani people are an ethnic group from Afghanistan. 

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5. And in the first place, what makes up a person’s identity IS NOT JUST HOW MUCH or HOW LITTLE MELANIN THEY HAVE.

  • Tell your friend she is 100% Indian, because what makes up her identity is not just how she looks. Identity is what feels most natural to her, and if that identity is indeed very intertwined with major aspects of Indian culture- then well, she IS Indian and noone can say otherwise. 
  • Those people had no right to make her feel awful and “not-Indian enough” because it’s clear she identifies as such due to actually being born there and also practising major aspects of Indian culture. The best example I can think of to explain this is how in the US, people sometimes use the term “Latino” as a race category, with the stereotype that all latinos must have tanned skin and dark hair. In reality, it’s more of a cultural identity. There are fair haired-latinos and darker-skinned latinos whose ancestors included the African slaves brought to the Americas four hundred years ago. But what really makes them “Latino” or “Hispanic” is their upbringing- growing up in the environment of Latin America, which is culturally a syncretic fusion of Amerindian, African, Spanish, Portuguese and other European influences. 

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(This is the Brazilian football team that won the 1970 World Cup- you can see Pelé- second from the bottom right. He is an Afro-Brazilian. If you look at his teammates, you can see how latinos come in ALL COLOURS.)

6. Your friend should not be questioning her identity, but those people attacking her should be questioning their utterly myopic worldview. The history of human genetics and migrations makes it abundantly clear how DIVERSE India is- so it’s perfectly possible for her to be Indian but have blonde hair and green eyes, even if it may be less common. 

7. On a more general note, I cannot stress this enough to everyone- DO NOT GO AROUND ATTACKING PEOPLE for “cultural appropriation” when you are NOT even from that culture in question and/or don’t actually know in detail the history and genetics of that region.

  • If you suspect cultural appropriation: DO YOUR RESEARCH FIRST or ASK SOMEBODY you know who actually belongs to that group. You may be attacking mixed-race people or people like the anon’s friend, who simply has features that are less genetically dominant- blonde hair shows up less easily in countries with a bigger pool of people with dark hair because dark hair is dominant. Even if her parents had dark hair, it’s possible they both carried a recessive gene for blonde hair that was suppressed by their dark-hair gene. Their child would be blonde if she happened to get both copies of the blonde gene instead of the dark hair gene.
  • Also, even if you think the person isn’t of that group, please bear in mind they might have been invited to dress in that clothing by a friend, or because they’re at an event. (I.e let’s say, at an Indian wedding)
  • I can’t stress enough how infuriating this “white knight” complex is. Speaking as someone pretty familiar with colonialism, I’ve had people who didn’t grow up in my culture condescendingly insist that if I’m okay with somebody doing something from my culture, it’s “self-internalised oppression”. I’ve studied African colonial literature, and the way people insist on defining what people should be alright with is very reminiscent of 19th century imperialists high-handedly saying, “oh, we have to bring the light of civilisation to save those backwards colonial subjects from themselves!”

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This is Reese Witherspoon, wearing a kimono in Japan, where she is being taught by JAPANESE people how to perform the traditional tea ceremony. This is not reducing a culture to a caricature because she’s actually learning stuff respectfully and wearing a bona fide kimono.

  • Fighting against cultural appropriation is to prevent cultures from being cheapened, made into jokes, sexual fetishes or ugly caricatures. Part of returning power to people to define themselves is ALSO by allowing them to set the parameters of what they want to share with others- and many cultures are perfectly willing to share aspects that are non-sacred or do not have to be earned. So, for example, do not go around insisting a Japanese person should not be allowed to teach non-Japanese people to wear a kimono- because a kimono, unlike a Navajo (my bad! the Navajo were not a Native American people who traditionally wore such headdresses. Thanks to tumblr user nativepeopleproblems for pointing it out!) Sioux or Cheyenne war bonnet (akin to veteran’s medals), is something anybody can wear. Recognise this difference. 

evilgingerbirdy said:

The thing that scares me about the Ferguson police is that they have equipment similar to the military, but don't have the same extensive training that the military does.

EXACTLY. Although in that post I talked about the “militarisation of the American police”, the irony is that US Army soldiers, Navy SEALs or Iraq/Afghanistan vets would do a million times a better job at crowd control than those bullies on a power trip masquerading as the Ferguson police department. I am very critical about the US’ actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, but I can’t help but feel US soldiers would actually be far, far more responsible with their firearms because of the extensive training drilled into them. They wouldn’t be fucking pointing them so carelessly.

US soldiers would actually know the dangers of escalating a situation, because they’ve been in situations where poor judgment will cost the lives of their other unit members. Afghan vets who had to meet with village elders in jirgas to discuss the complaints of Afghans or to hand over blood money for accidental killings of civilians would know a hella more about mediation and calming tensions than those trigger happy fools running the show in Ferguson. 

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It’s been pretty routine for US Army soldiers to take courses on civil society and Afghan culture in the later years of the war, once military leaders realised they sorely lacked the knowledge to build rapport and cooperation with Afghans. 

A vet who has actually been in a firefight or faced a violent mob in a foreign country or who knows militants may be waiting to ambush them would know that the protesters in Ferguson are BARELY a threat. Even if there’s rioters or looters, the Ferguson police don’t look kitted out like riot police in other countries- walking around carrying guns instead of shields and batons. Look how the Ferguson police have been walking around with their gun barrels UP and POINTED AT PEOPLE NOT POSING A THREAT

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Instead of DOWN like these US soldiers patrolling a street in the village of Shabila Khan, Afghanistan

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or these soldiers guarding a military base in Kabul, Afghanistan, during the riots over the news that a group of US soldiers had desecrated the Quran 

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Or this soldier talking to civilians while on patrol in Hamza, Iraq. (I suppose the Ferguson police would still think perhaps that old man carrying the child could be a militant in disguise, right, even if his hands are where everyone can see them?)

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Yes, and all these pictures are of soldiers on patrol, soldiers who know there may suddenly be an ambush or an IED attack- dangers far GREATER than what the Ferguson police could even imagine. Yet there’s a clearly greater ability to know not to walk around flippantly pointing your weapon at people’s heads. Have there been cases of rogue soldiers? Of course, like the one soldier who murdered 16 Afghan civilians. He was sentenced to lifetime imprisonment without parole by the US military tribunal and the US government paid blood money to the Afghan victims. (Financial compensation for wrongful deaths or injuries is an Afghan tradition- particularly in the culture of the Pashtun ethnic group.) What I see in cases of US police brutality is this happening multiple times, except it’s always contorted so somehow by the end, even if the victim was unarmed, he somehow “had it coming”, and police officers getting off scott-free. 

You know, Iraq was an ill-thought out and unjust war in my opinion. But I feel the US Iraq and Afghanistan veterans probably know a lot more about trying to build rapport with residents of an area they’re patrolling (even if they weren’t 100% successful) and about not pointing their weapons at anyone and everyone. It’s not that the US Army haven’t hurt and caused loss of civilian lives, but that it seems the Ferguson police are reacting so disproportionately when in a much, much less dangerous situation. When compared to the US soldiers dealing with much, much more tangible and deadly threats in Iraq and Afghanistan, it’s crystal clear the behaviour of the Ferguson police department has been a complete disgrace. And it just shows the dangers of giving people military firepower without military training- you get great power without any responsibility, compassion and thought for the people who might be hurt. 

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Body language is a very powerful tool. We had body language before we had speech, and apparently, 80% of what you understand in a conversation is read through the body, not the words.
- Deborah Bull

Grade was in all her steps, heaven in her eye, in every gesture dignity and love.
-John Milton, Paradise Lost

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AFGHANISTAN, Herat : An Afghan woman buys silk yarn for weaving from a shop in Herat on August 6, 2014. Western Afghanistan, once a stop along the Silk Road trade route, has a long tradition in the silk production process dating back thousands of years. Carpets are Afghanistan’s best-known export, woven mostly by women and children in the north of the country, a trade which once employed, directly or indirectly, six million people, or a fifth of the country’s population, but that figure has dropped sharply. AFP PHOTO/Aref Karimi

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Buying and Selling in the World’s Bazaars, Souks, and Markets

In The Bazaars of Hyderabad
What do you sell, Oh ye merchants?
Richly your wares are displayed,
Turbans of crimson and silver,
Tunics of purple brocade,
Mirrors with panels of amber,
Daggers with handles of jade.

What do you weigh, Oh ye vendors?
Saffron, lentil and rice.

What do you cry, Oh fruitmen?
Citron, pomegranate and plum.

What do you make, Oh ye goldsmiths?
Wristlet and anklet and ring,
Bells for the feet of blue pigeons,
Frail as a dragon-fly’s wing,
Girdles of gold for the dancers,
Scabbards of gold for the king.
Sarojini Naidu (1879-1949)
Known as The Nightingale of India

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