Student Spotlight: Lina El-Shamy

Hometown: It’s complicated, but I would say Alexandria, Egypt, and London, Ontario.
Research Interests: contemporary Egyptian visual culture; visual anthropology; politics of aesthetics (and vice versa); history of graphic design


1. What do you do outside of class/academic work?
I make illustrations and films.

2. How did you get started with this activity?
I have an undergraduate background in graphic design, so I am used to communicating ideas visually. Drawing and filmmaking are my way of continuing this practice alongside the immense knowledge I am gaining as a PhD student. I also believe that we live in an age where visual communication is more effective than textual communication (or: textual communication is not enough). I really hope that academics and scholars can start realizing that inaccessible academic papers do nothing but alienate the very societies we are trying to understand.

3. What’s the most interesting thing about you that we wouldn’t learn from your CV/resume alone?
I was born in Alexandria, Egypt, grew up in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (a very cosmopolitan city), and immigrated to Canada when I was 15 years old.

4. What’s next for you?
Preparing and sitting for the comprehensive exam. I am actually really excited to finally get to read all the books I have been wanting to read for so long.

5. What is your favourite thing about Toronto?
The student culture of the university campuses. There are so many student groups and clubs; there is always an event to attend and so much to learn outside one’s department.

6. You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What colour would you be and why?
I would probably be a strange multicoloured crayon (the one that ends up producing a brown colour on paper). I am what you could call a ‘third culture kid’. I do not identify with one culture and my mother tongue is a jumble of Arabic and English.

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