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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Hindustan Times on DNSI's Valarie Kaur

Efforts and initiatives to promote cross-cultural understanding are vital for survival, sustenance and success in the globalised world. Genuine understanding and respect for each other's beliefs and traditions can no longer be optional. The murder of Alia Ansari in Fremont last month and other crimes of violence against Sikhs, Muslims, and other racial, ethnic, and religious groups since 9/11 in varied parts of US further reiterate that hate and bigotry are paths to perdition. In their response against such acts, people of Fremont observed a wear a hijab/turban day on Monday, November 13.

Besides such similar responses, other long-term efforts for promotion of cross-cultural understanding are the global need of the day. For adequate representation of South Asia in Stanford, a new Center for South Asia (CSA) has been created at the university, co-directed by Professors Carl Bielefeldt and Linda Hess.

This year, the center is co-presenting two films in the San Francisco International South Asia Film Festival titled Divided We Fall: Americans in the Aftermath directed by Sharat Raju and Stanford's Valarie Kaur and The Forsaken Land directed by Vimukthi Jayasundara.

In Divided We Fall, driven to action by the brutal murder of a man from her Sikh community in the aftermath of 9/11, Valarie Kaur sets out across America. Camera in her hand she crosses the country to discover who counts as "American" in a world divided into "us" and "them".

Whether on the streets of a still-shocked Manhattan, the steps of the US capital, or in the desert towns of Arizona, Valarie captures the untold stories of 9/11. In cafes, restaurants, homes, places of business and street corners across the country, people invite her into their lives and share their remarkable struggles with violence, fear and loss.

In her journey, she confronts the forces that divide people in times of crisis. How do we see one another? Who looks like an enemy? Who looks like an American? Who counts as "one of us". [Link]

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