This next episode was recorded at the back end of June 2020, but it’s still so relevant today, as here in England we enter our second national lockdown. Keeping a relationship going with nature is still so very much a life line, as Dr. Niveen Kassem shares in this episode.

Dr. Niveem Kassem is a PhD holder, tutorial assistant, trained mentor, editor, innovative and successful interpreter/translator. Currently Assistant Teaching Fellow in the School of Modern Languages and Cultures and a member of the Institute for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at Durham University, her research spreads across interdisciplinary strands, including cultural studies and heritage, memory, identity and trauma. As part of this, she tries to understand how the past shapes the collective and individual identity in the present. Niveen has also worked with Newcastle University as part of a research program introducing the North East’s Syriac community to the World Heritage site of memory, The Gertrude Bell Archive.

Niveen finds in the vast and elegant landscapes a home for her inspiration where some of her best creations are developed/ born or even fermented while being out and about exploring the mysterious giant universe. More importantly, the natural world opens up her imagination and inspires her to translate her observations and feelings into creative narratives, writing lyrical prose and short stories. Although she trained and works as an academic, she’s a life-long learner in this rollercoaster of life.

In this episode we talk about:

  • Covid-19 and lockdown
  • Urban green spaces
  • Dr. Kassem’s working life and teaching
  • Hidden histories and bringing them to light
  • The Middle East, particularly Syria’s landscape
  • Childhood relationship with nature
  • Being a Black write in residence in nature
  • The internal landscape reflected in the external landscape
  • Seeking solace and support in nature
  • Writing on leaves