The Television Center in Almaty (Alma-Ata), Kazakhstan, 1996. The building was built during the Soviet Era and unfortunately lacks information about its architect and construction date. It was inspired by the historical cities of Central Asia, whose regional capital was Almaty. The design recalls the Persian muqarnas (complicated geometric niches and domes clad in tiles or mirror) of the mosques and madrasas of Registan, Bukhara, and Khiva. The style was adapted to the cityscape by using metal cladding and glass.
Shah Cheragh, the mirrored mosque ~ a funerary monument and mosque in Shiraz, Iran, housing the tomb of the brothers Ahmad and Muhammad, sons of Mūsā al-Kādhim and brothers of ‘Alī ar-Ridhā. It is an important place of pilgrimage within the city of Shiraz.
Whew! I’ve been on the road and/or at local conventions (hi, ECCC and Norwescon!) for most of the month, so I am late saying: Ms. Marvel #3! Out now!
If you were intrigued by the mosque scene in this issue, you must take a look at American Muslim activist Hind Makki’s amazing site, Side Entrance, which examines women’s spaces in mosques all over the world…the good, the bad and the ugly. Thanks largely to Hind’s project, the term “side entrance” (a reference to the separate and often unequal entrances for women in many mosques) has become shorthand for the complex gender dynamics at play in modern Islamic sacred spaces. (As someone who has had the privilege of exploring mosques in many different places, I have to say that North American mosques are–with a few notable exceptions–among the worst I have seen in terms of the access and dignity afforded to women. The best? Iranian mosques. By a LONG mile. The world is never as black and white as it seems…)
We’ve been talking a lot about intersectionality in comics recently. I am consistently amazed by the similarities between conversations about gender representation/inclusion across cultural boundaries. Many of the debates about women’s roles in American mosques mirror those about women’s roles in American comics and geek culture. (Can men represent women’s interests in a sensitive and legitimate way? How much room do we need to make for women’s voices? What was wrong with the old way, if anything?) The same kinds of tactics–the idea that men, by virtue of an ages-old cultural monopoly, are more “authentic” practitioners (of religion, of fandom, of whatever) and women’s voices are therefore inauthentic and unnecessary–are often deployed by male gatekeepers in both cases. It seems like every day we get a fresh example of women in geek culture being “side entranced”–shut down by “real” male fans, sometimes with threats of violence, and told to accept the status quo. Ie, to stay on the girls’ side. The parallels are actually pretty striking.
We are all pieces of each other. If there is one thing that writing Ms. Marvel has taught me so far, it is that.