School of English and Drama

Dr Nadia Atia, BA MA PhD (QMUL)


Senior Lecturer in World Literature

Room Number: ArtsOne 3.33


I completed my Ph.D. on British perceptions of Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq) in the early twentieth century, at Queen Mary. This considered how the First World War changed British views of, and Britain’s geo-political relationship with, Mesopotamia in the years preceding the creation of the state of Iraq. My current research examines Britain’s ever-evolving relationship with Iraq, and the ways in which Iraq and its people are represented in contemporary Iraqi literature available in the UK. I have worked at Queen Mary since 2012.

Undergraduate Teaching

In the 2017-18 academic year, I teach on:

Postgraduate Teaching

And on the postgraduate module:

  • ESH7067: Reading the Middle East


Research Interests:

  • Iraqi literature, especially in English and English translation
  • The First World War in the Middle East
  • Marginalised voices of the First World War, particularly women who served in the Middle East and colonial and imperial troops.
  • Britain and Britons in Iraq in the early twentieth century
  • Travel and other life writing
  • The popular and the middlebrow

Recent and On-Going Research:

My research examines the literature and cultural history of the First World War outside Europe. My first monograph, World War I in Mesopotamia: The British and the Ottomans in Iraq (IB Tauris, 2016) explores how ideologies of race and empire shaped the ways in which British travellers, archaeologists, servicemen and women from different classes and professional backgrounds interacted with and represented the region now known as Iraq, in the early twentieth-century. In particular, I examine their interactions with the Indian, African, Afro-Caribbean, Egyptian or Chinese workers and military personnel who played such a crucial role in the war, but whose presence is not a familiar one in many accounts of the First World War. More recently, I’ve become particularly interested in the women who served in the Middle East during the First World War. Most, but by no means all, were serving in a medical capacity as trained nurses, or VADs (Voluntary Aid Detachment workers, who often volunteered as untrained nursing staff), and – more rarely – as doctors, translators, administrators, cooks, or in other skilled capacities. Though they served in extraordinarily difficult circumstances, unlike their more familiar counterparts on the Western Front, we know relatively little about the service of these women.

I am also currently working on a number of new projects. The first investigates Agatha Christie’s time in Iraq in the early twentieth century. This has led to a broader interest in ‘middlebrow’ and the popular, and their relationship with the postcolonial paradigm. These come together in a forthcoming collection: Popular Postcolonialisms: Discourses of Empire and Popular Culture (Routledge, forthcoming), which I’m co-editing with Kate Houlden (ARU).

The second is a larger project on contemporary representations of Iraq and Iraqis in Britain through Iraqi literature, Iraqi art and film. What version of Iraq and its people is made available in Britain? How do texts (whatever their media) ‘translate’ Iraq in Britain?


  • ‘The Figure of the Refugee in Hassan Blasim’s “The Reality and the Record.”’ Journal of Commonwealth Literature (2017)
  • 'Fictional Depictions of Nursing in the Middle East'. Journal of War and Culture Studies (July 2017)
  • 'First World War Nursing Narratives in the Middle East'. Landscapes and Voices of the Great War, Editors: Smith, A, Cowman, K, Routledge (London and NY, 2017)
  • World War I in Mesopotamia: The British and the Ottomans in Iraq (IB Tauris, 2016)
  • ‘A Wartime Tourist Trail: Mesopotamia in the British Imagination, 1914-1918’, in Travel in Anatolia, the Ottoman Empire and Republic of Turkey, a special issue of Studies in Travel Writing, 4, ed. by Donna Landry and Gerald MacLean (2012), 1-12
  • Review Essay: ‘Mesopotamian Myths’, History Workshop Journal, 71 (2011), 247-252
  • Co-editor (with Jeremy Davies) and contributor to ‘Nostalgia and the Shapes of History’, a special issue of the SAGE journal Memory Studies, 3 (2012)
  • ‘A relic of its own past: Mesopotamia in the British imagination 1900-14’, Memory Studies, 3 (2010), 232-241

See also my Queen Mary Research Publications profile.

PhD Supervision

I would welcome enquiries from potential doctoral students interested in any of the areas of my research.