Program Director

About Leila Nadir

Headshot of Leila Nadir.
Associate Professor and Program Director, Environmental Humanities Program

Leila Christine Nadir is an award-winning artist, writer, and educator obsessed with life after ruins and the possibilities for collective memory and repair after ecological disruptions, geopolitical violences, immigration and exile, childhood violence, and colonial traumas. In 2016, she led the founding of University of Rochester’s Environmental Humanities Program, which she currently directs. Working across critical and creative forms, her work appears in a wide range of venues, from museums and galleries and literary publications to popular magazines and scholarly journals.

Professor Nadir is a 2022-2023 MacDowell Fellow, a 2023 Hedgebrook Writer-in-Residence, and a 2022 Aspen Institute Emerging Writer Fellow, and a 2022 recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts American Rescue Grant.

As co-founder of the EcoArtTech collaborative with University of Rochester Associate Professor Cary Adams, Professor Nadir has exhibited community-based ecological artworks worldwide, including the Whitney Museum of Art, New Museum of Contemporary Art, Neuberger Museum of Art, MIT Media Lab, European Media Art Festival, UCLA’s Sci|Art Center, and Parsons School of Design, among many other places. This work has been supported by fellowships and residencies from the Andrew Mellon Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, the Franklin Furnace Fund, Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Center for Land Use Interpretation, Banff New Media Institute, and New York State Council on the Arts. The EcoArtTech collaborative's latest project is the launch of an art-residency program in western Maine. Their works are in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the New Museum, and the Cornell University Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art.

Professor Nadir's latest project is Afghan Americana, an intimate-geopolitical memoir about the wars that rage within and beyond family, including the Cold War, the US Culture Wars, and the wars in Afghanistan. It tells the story of Professor Nadir's coming-of-age as a mixed-race girl in an immigrant family haunted by colonial violences and unspoken traumas. Part cultural criticism, part family portrait, part snapshot of the 1980s Cold War, this memoir excavates the messy networks of military, industrial, emotional, spiritual, racial, colonial, and ancestral legacies that imprint secrets and denial in our bodies. Excerpts from Afghan Americana have appeared in Black Warrior Review, North American Review, Asian American Literary Review, Aster(ix), ASAP/J, and elsewhere.