Anna Dearden

Anna Dearden

Department of History
Doctoral researcher

Contact details

PhD title: Britons dislocated: the effects of mobility and dislocation on the navigation and expression of the imperial self, c. 1757-1833
SupervisorDr Kate Smith and Professor Karen Harvey
PhD History


  • BA Hons English Literature and History, University of Birmingham
  • Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL), University of Law
  • Legal Practice Course (LPC), University of Law
  • MA History, University of Leicester


I studied for my undergraduate degree in English Literature and History at the University of Birmingham from 2013-2016. During my time as an undergraduate I worked as Dr Kate Smith's research assistant as part of the College of Arts and Law's Research Scholarship programme. Upon completing my undergraduate degree, I moved into the legal profession, completing the GDL and the LPC at the University of Law whilst working part time at Rolls Royce. I then trained, qualified and practiced as a solicitor at a law firm in Birmingham city centre. I returned to academia in 2020, completing my MA in History at the University of Leicester. I started my PhD in October 2021, having been awarded funding by the Wolfson Foundation as part of their postgraduate scholarship in the humanities programme. Alongside my research, I am also an assistant editor at The MHR (a student-run humanities journal) and I am the PGR representative for the School of History and Cultures (SHaC).


I am a cultural historian of the long eighteenth century with special interests in the histories of dislocation, emotions and the self in the context of the British Empire in India. My project considers how geographical mobility, and consequently dislocation (temporal, social and emotional), affected the construction and expression of the self in the age of the East India Company (EIC) nabob. Whilst most scholarship analysing identity and the self considers historical subjects as geographically static, this project examines how those who were displaced within and between imperial sites such as Britain and India navigated and expressed their relationship with the self. The project’s historical subjects are the EIC officials labelled “nabobs”, and their families, who ‘lived lives that internalized India’ (Nechtman, 2010). By considering families, the project ponders how the effects of dislocation across generations affected the imperial family’s “habitus” and collective senses of identity and belonging over time. The project also explores the lives of those native to the Indian subcontinent who were dislocated by these families, including domestic servants, nursery maids (ayahs) and interracial children. Ayahs often facilitated the mobility of white imperial families and thus had to contend with international displacement and emotional dislocation.

Other activities

I am co-convener (with Annabelle Gilmore, University of Birmingham) of the 'Exploring the Empire, Exploring the Self' workshop which is taking place in April 2021. The workshop is funded by the Birmingham Research Institute for History and Cultures (BRIHC). The workshop will consider the impacts of geographical mobility on the construction and navigation of the self. I also lead (with Cinzia DuBois, UoB) a PGR-focused forum for PGR students within the School of History and Cultures (SHaC) which provides an informal space for peer support and promotes positive mental wellbeing within the PGR community.