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Episode 5 - Artist vs Spokesperson

Season 1, Ep. 5

In this episode award-winning Canadian filmmakers Atom and Deepa explore their roles in sharing their culture and identity through film. They also dive into issues such as representation in film, and discuss the struggle between being an artist and spokesperson for their communities.


To learn more about the themes presented in this episode, refer to these papers from Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies


  • Alessandrini, A. C. (2001). “My heart’s Indian for all that”: Bollywood film between home and diaspora. Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies, 10(3), 315-340. https://doi.org/10.3138/diaspora.10.3.315
  • Moser, R. H., & Racy, A. J. (2010). The homeland in the literature and music of Syrian-Lebanese immigrants and their descendants in Brazil. Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies, 19(2-3), 280-311. https://doi.org/10.3138/diaspora.19.2-3.280
  • Francis, G. M. (2021). Performing while Black: Disrupting gender and sexuality from Trinidad to Norway—The artivism of Thomas Prestø. Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies, 21(2), 279-296. https://doi.org/10.3138/diaspora.21.2.2021.05.14.2
  • Siraganian, L. (1997). “Is this my mother’s grave?”: Genocide and diaspora in Atom Egoyan’s Family Viewing. Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies, 6(2), 127-154. https://doi.org/10.3138/diaspora.6.2.127


Guest Bios


Born in Egypt to Armenian parents, Atom Egoyan moved to Canada at an early age and was raised in Victoria, B.C. He developed an early interest in drama and continues to work in theatre and opera, with upcoming productions at Pacific Opera Victoria, the Montreal Opera and the Canadian Opera Company. His eighteen features have won two Academy Award nominations and five prizes at the Cannes Film Festival, including the Grand Prix and International Critics Awards.


Deepa Mehta is an Oscar-nominated filmmaker whose work is celebrated on an international scale. Her emotionally resonating, award-winning films have played every major film festival, and been sold and distributed around the globe. Her films include the Elemental Trilogy: Earth, Fire, Water, the final film of which received an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film, Bollywood/Hollywood, Heaven on Earth and the epic adaptation of Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie’s three-time Booker Prize winning novel. Her work challenges traditions and stereotypes and is always daring, fearless and provocative. It’s this spirit that saturated her feature film Anatomy of Violence. Deepa shot the pilot and second episode for the Netflix Original series, Leila, and is the Creative Executive Producer for the show. She also directed The Manager, the pilot episode of Little America for Apple TV. Her latest feature film Funny Boy is based on the award winning novel by Shyam Selvadurai. It has been released on Netflix through ARRAY, and on CBC Gem in Canada. It received awards for Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Score, and Best Director at the 2021 Canadian Screen Awards, and for Best Motion Picture and Best Supporting Performance Female at the 2021 Leo Awards. Deepa thoroughly enjoyed directing an iconic cast of the iconic script ‘Bear Down’ for Showtime’s series Yellowjackets. She is also the Writer and Director of Propagate Content’s feature film Burnt Sugar (Girl in White Cotton), based on Avni Doshi’s award-winning novel shortlisted for the Booker Prize.


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In this episode, Ravneet and Taiwo explore ways that young Diasporans living in Canada support, help and advocate for their homelands.To learn more about the themes presented in this episode, refer to these papers from Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies:Singh, M., & Singh, A. (2014). Diaspora, political action, and identity: A case study of Canada’s Indian diaspora. Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies, 17(2), 149-171. https://doi.org/10.3138/diaspora.17.2.149Moss, D. M. (2020). Special report 2020: The importance of defending diaspora activism for democracy and human rights. Freedom House. https://freedomhouse.org/report/special-report/2020/importance-defending-diaspora-activism-democracy-and-human-rightsPanagakos, A. N. (1998). Citizens of the trans-nation: political mobilization, multiculturalism, and nationalism in the Greek diaspora. Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies, 7(1), 53-73. https://doi.org/10.3138/diaspora.7.1.53Guest BiosTaiwo Bello is a senior doctoral student in African History at the University of Toronto, where he also works as a Teaching Assistant and Course Instructor. He is currently a Vanier Scholar, Martin Klein Fellow, and Carmen Brock Fellow in African History. His research interests include gender and women’s studies; violent conflicts and genocide; international history; diaspora studies; digital humanities; and Africa in 20th-century global history.Ravneet Mann is a legal marketing professional in Toronto, Canada. After obtaining her Bachelor of Arts (specializing in Sociology and Education) from the University of Toronto in 2014, she started her role as Program Coordinator at the Zoryan Institute. Ravneet coordinated several of the Institute’s programs including the Genocide and Human Rights University Program, the Syrian Refugee Oral History Program. Her time at Zoryan Institute combined with her family history, led Ravneet to develop a keen interest in advocacy for social justice.
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Episode 1 - Uprooted

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In this episode, Cheng and Athena explore reasons behind migration, and their personal experiences of being “uprooted” from their homeland and “replanted” in Canada. This episode provides an introduction to identities, culture, and hybridity.To learn more about the themes presented in this episode, refer to these papers from Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies:Howard, A. (2011). Diaspora no more? The role of Facebook in the development of a global Rotuman community. Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies, 20(2), 177-203.https://doi.org/10.3138/diaspora.20.2.003Liebelt, C., Shenar, G., & Werbner, P. (2010). Migration, diaspora, and religious pilgrimage in comparative perspective: Sacred geographies and ethical landscapes. Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies, 19(1), 32-50. https://doi.org/10.3138/diaspora.19.1.03Tölölyan, K. (1991). The nation-state and its others: In lieu of a preface, Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies, 1(1), 3-7. https://doi.org/10.3138/diaspora.1.1.3Jules-Rosette, B. (2000). Identity discourses and diasporic aesthetics in Black Paris: Community formation and the translation of culture, Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies, 9(1), 39-58. https://doi.org/10.3138/diaspora.9.1.39Fortier, A. (1998). The politics of "Italians abroad": Nation, diaspora, and new geographies of identity. Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies, 7(2), 197-224. https://doi.org/10.3138/diaspora.7.2.197Guest BiosAthena Madan is an Assistant Professor at Royal Roads University, School of Humanitarian Studies. She is a naturalised Canadian citizen who is half Filipino and half Indian. She is additionally fluently bilingual in French and in English; the mother of Deven (born March 2019); the other half of Drew (a partner with Woodward & Company LLP); and the seventh of seven siblings (auspicious for a Filipino). Athena is one of the recipients of the 2021 Distinguished Academics Award from the Confederation of Faculty Associations of British Columbia (CUFA BC), and the recipient of the RRU Kelly Outstanding Teacher Award (2021). In 2018, Athena was selected as a winner of the Untold Stories Competition @ NPR, Johns Hopkins, & the Consortium for Universities in Global Health.Cheng Xu is a PhD candidate in Political Science at the University of Toronto. He is a Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholar and the 2021-2022 Cadieux-Leger Fellow at Global Affairs Canada. Cheng has served for nearly ten years in the Canadian Armed Forces as an airborne infantry officer.
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Episode 6 - Connecting Cultures through Choir

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In this episode, Lili and Marta have a conversation about passing on their Latin American and Ukrainian heritages to their communities through their work with theVancouver Latin American Cultural Centre Society and the Holodomor Research and Education Consortium. This episode reveals how communities share and preserve culture through informal and formal education, and the creative ways that Diasporas have stayed connected to each other and to their homelands through the COVID-19 pandemic.To learn more about the themes presented in this episode, refer to these papers from Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies:Gezentsvey-Lamy, M. A., Ward, C., & Liu, J. H. (2013). Motivation for ethno-cultural continuity. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 44(7), 1047-1066. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022022113478657Sökefeld, M. (2002). Alevism online: Re-imagining a community in virtual space. Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies, 11(1), 85-123. https://doi.org/10.3138/diaspora.11.1.85Guest BiosLili Vieira de Carvalho is the Vancouver Latin American Cultural Centre Society’s Executive Director. Lili was one of the founders of VLACC and its vice-president from 2012 to early 2019, while also chairing the Programming Committee. Since incorporation, she has been involved in all levels of the organization’s activities, from marketing and communications to fundraising efforts. She’s also the spokesperson of the Consulate General of Brazil in Vancouver’s Citizen Council. Born in Brazil, Lili immigrated to Vancouver in 2008 and has over 30 years of experience in arts management. Since accepting the Executive Director position with VLACC, Lili led an 8-month Capacity Building plan that prepared the organization to expand its fundraising and planning strategies, while developing governance and volunteer recruiting and retention. In that same period, she collaborated in doubling the organization's budget. Recently she led the work of integrating VLACC's new website with a donor and member management database while planning for 2021's program line-up.Marta Baziuk is Executive Director of the Holodomor Research and Education Consortium (HREC), a project of the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, University of Alberta (Toronto office). HREC was founded in 2013 with the mandate to promote knowledge and awareness of the Holodomor through a range of research, education and outreach activities, engaging academic audiences, educators and the broader public. HREC initiatives include a publications program, annual research grants competition, visiting scholar and post-doctoral fellowships, conferences, and development of pedagogical materials. Marta has more than 25 years of experience in international development and the not-for-profit sector. In the early 1990s, while representing the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) in Ukraine, she worked with local activists to establish the first nationwide election monitoring organization, the Non-Partisan Committee of Voters. As Ukraine Program Officer for Winrock International, Marta oversaw the establishment of a national network of women’s centers that offer job skills training programs, domestic violence hotlines, and other services.She holds a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University.