Leila Christine Nadir is an Afghan-American artist, writer, and educator focusing on memory and healing across media. Her essays explore her experiences of being part of an Afghan diaspora whose members have survived war, trauma, and displacement, and her artworks recover ancient food practices buried by the industrial food system. Memory, time, and healing have been an obsession for as long as she can remember: as a child, she tape-recorded family conversations and replayed them over and over, fascinated by the passage of time, the disintegration of memory, and the insight gained by taking a closer look. Known for her environmental collaborations with artist Cary Peppermint, which are documented at leilacary.xyz and EcoArtTech.net, Leila’s primary creative focus today is writing her memoir, Bad Muslim, about her childhood growing up within the colorful, turbulent marriage of her Afghan, Muslim father and Slovak-American, Catholic mother, who together raised seven children. Chapters and essays from this project about ethnic identity, racism, religion, and coming-of-age are in publication.
A Mellon Foundation Post-Doctoral fellow and New York Foundation for the Arts fellow, Leila earned her PhD in English & Comparative Literature from Columbia University. Her scholarly and personal essays have appeared in McSweeney’s, North American Review, Asian American Literary Review, Aster(ix), Leonardo, Rhizome.org, Cather Studies, Utopian Studies, Hyperallergic, among other places, including American Scientist, for which she writes a regular column on artists engaging science. Her scholarship has received the Eugenio Battisti Award and the Arthur O. Lewis Award from the Society of Utopian Studies, and her creative projects have been supported by the Whitney Museum of Art, New Museum, Neuberger Museum of Art, M.I.T. Media Lab, UCLA Sci|Art Center, Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Center for Land Use Interpretation, Banff New Media Institute, and New York State Council on the Arts. Leila is currently Assistant Professor of Environmental Humanities at the University of Rochester, where she is also Founding Director of the Environmental Humanities Program. She has taught previously at Columbia University, Wellesley College, Colgate University, and Oneonta State College.