Omar and Dania

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.

Show notes: 

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

10:28    Dr. Rain Prud’homme-Cranford

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.


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