Alia, from Damascus, is studying Syrians who have come to Toronto. Her work is ambitious, multifaceted, and multidisciplinary.
Alia is insightful across the interview, but at one point, mentioning the West’s relationship to Africa, that Africa is ‘forgotten’ (as Syria), she added “or remembered in a different way.” I think this turn of phrase is well chosen, because most North Americans, to take one example, have a view of Turkey without any experience of Turkey. They have an idea and an image in their head with zero basis — a memory without the experience that caused it. Edward Said would say that this is a product of the culture they’ve consumed, like for my generation, the movies Aladdin, The Jungle Book, and The Lion King shaped our preconception of other cultures. Of course Robin Hood shaped my preconception of England. The point is these cultural consumptions fill a void and therefore have quite a lot of power.