In late February 2005, I was contacted by a freelance American journalist

named Steven Vincent, telling me that he had just brought back from Iraq a

number of posters with themes related to the Shi’i Passion Play (Ta’ziyeh)

and was now writing a piece on them for Harper’s Magazine. He wondered

if I would meet with him and help him understand the significance of the

posters and what they meant. After a few email and phone exchanges, he

finally came to my office at Columbia with a handful of these posters, which he said he had collected while he was in Iraq.