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Crosscurrents is our award-winning radio news magazine, broadcasting Mondays through Thursdays at 11 a.m. on 91.7 FM. We make joyful, informative stories that engage people across the economic, social, and cultural divides in our community. Listen to full episodes at kalw.org/crosscurrents

Looking at you looking at me: Surveillance protest art

Hasan M. Elahi during the Lift conference.
Hasan Elahi
/
Flickr Creative Commons
Hasan M. Elahi during the Lift conference.

Descendants of immigrants and refugees from countries in the Middle East and South Asia have often had a hard time living in the post 9/11 United States because they have Muslim names. Take former San Jose State Professor and artist Hasan Elahi.

After September 11, while trying to catch a plane, he was detained and interrogated by the FBI, and compelled to share a lot of personal information with the Feds. He was eventually cleared, but the experience inspired him to launch a project called “Hiding in Plain Sight” in which he photographs every single detail of his daily life — no matter how mundane — and uploads it on his website for the world — and the FBI — to see. It’s a form of “surveillance protest art.”

This story originally aired in April, 2011

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Hana Baba is host of Crosscurrents, KALW's weeknight newsmagazine that broadcasts on KALW Public Radio in the San Francisco Bay Area.