Episode 48: A Conversation between Dania Idriss and Omar Ramadan
Mar 1, 2023
In this conversation, Dania Idriss and Omar Ramadan talk about the tangled roots of language, translation, and history, how institutional money talks, and about being Muslim Arab creative writers in the academy. They discuss influences and anxieties that factor into their research and writing.
Dania Idriss is a Lebanese-Canadian author and a doctoral student in the Department of English at the University of Calgary with her writing focusing on global literatures, particularly Arabic speculative fiction. Her work often presents Arab, Muslim women as agents in themselves outside of the harmful Western narratives.
Omar Ramadan is a creative writing PhD student at University of Calgary. His research and creative work focus on Arab diaspora literatures. He’s particularly interested in systems of power and surveillance, and the impacts of 9/11 on Arab & Muslim communities. He is the managing editor of filling Station magazine.
04:15 Being in Academia as Muslim Arab creative writers
07:52 Racism against Arab and Muslim people
08:37 Academia’s lack of nuance, especially in translation work
08:59 “The Passport” by Mahmoud Darwish
09:05 “The Forest” by Mahmoud Darwish, and what happens when the title of the poem is translated as “The Olive Grove”
09:42 On keeping Arabic untranslated while writing
10:53 Deema Abushaban, Illustrator
14:47 Indian School Days by Basil Johnston
15:16 On considering audiences’ perceptions
16:32 Tales of Mountains and Sea: Short Stories by Dania Idriss
17:36 Dealing with the white gaze
18:32 The Arab of the Future: A Childhood in the Middle East, 1978-1984 (L’Arabe du futur #1) by Riad Sattouf
19:50 On dealing with judgement from family
25:31 “Jameson’s Rhetoric of Otherness and the ‘National Allegory’” by Aijaz Ahmad
28:28 On the expectations to “fill in gaps”
30:43 On “decolonization” and EDI in Academia
31:30 “Decolonization is not a metaphor” by Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang
33:02 The importance of community and community building outside of Academia
39:24 Research Through, With and As Storying by Louise Gwenneth Phillips, Tracey Bunda, Elizabeth Quintero
40:07 On transgenerational and intertextual storytelling as well as subverting expectations
43:36 Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi
45:42 The role of “writer” vs “storyteller” and the tradition of the Hakawati
53:55 Marlon James
56:35 The future of Idriss’s writing practice
56:50 Dr Suzette Mayr
57:47 The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
59:49 What’s next for Ramadan
TIA House recognizes the generous support of the Canada Research Chairs program and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. We also appreciate the support of the Faculty of Arts and the Department of English at the University of Calgary, where our offices are housed, as well as the guidance of Marc Stoeckle at the Taylor Family Digital Library.
TIA House is run by Larissa Lai, Shuyin Yu, Ryan Stearne, Shazia Ramji, Rebecca Geleyn, Mikka Jacobsen, Benjamin Ghan, Amy LeBlanc, Marc Lynch, and Mahmoud Ababneh.
Our Intro/Outro music is Monarch of the Streets by Loyalty Freak Music, accessed from the Free Music Archive.