My research explores questions of authority and representation across cultural difference and suggests new ways to understand the role of literature and literary competence in shaping the plural modern world.
I have been principal investigator in two recent major research projects: the AHRC-funded Framing Muslims network (2007-10); and Muslims, Trust and Cultural Dialogue project, funded by the RCUK (2012-15); and have published several works on how intercultural relations are framed in the modern world and the part literature plays in this framing. The book that resulted from the earlier project, Framing Muslims: Stereotyping and Representation after 9/11, was nominated for a Grawemeyer Award by Louisville University in 2012 in the religions category. For more on the public-facing work of both projects please visit www.muslimstrustdialogue.org The Muslims, Trust and Cultural Dialogue project has also led to a policy briefing document: http://www.paccsresearch.org.uk/policy-briefings/trust-and-the-prevent-duty/
My first book, Fictions of India: Narrative and Power, published by Edinburgh University Press in 2000, explored the extent to which selected literary texts by writers such as Kipling, Forster, Masters, Scott and Farrell endorse or problematise established discourses of power in colonial and postcolonial contexts. Subsequent books have been about the predicament of the modern diasporic subject, as in my single-author study of the Canadian-based Parsi novelist Rohinton Mistry (Manchester UP, 2004); questions of minority discourse in the collection of essays entitled Alternative Indias: Writing Nation and Communalism (Rodopi, 2006); contemporary Muslim writing in Culture, Diaspora and Modernity in Muslim Writing (Routledge 2012); and two collections of cross-disciplinary essays entitled Contesting Islamophobia: Anti-Muslim Prejudice in Media, Culture and Politics (IB Tauris), and Muslims, Trust and Multiculturalism (Palgrave) (both forthcoming in 2018).
My new book Islamophobia and the Novel (Columbia University Press, forthcoming 2018) explores how modern anti-Muslim prejudice can be seen as a product of globalised geopolitical interests, refracted – rather than reflected – in literary fiction. It challenges the questionable critical conflation of the novel’s polyphony with the values of post-Enlightenment humanism, and suggests that the in-built prejudices of our secular mode of critique should be recognised as colouring our understanding of works that attempt to convey culturally different experiences and values.
Amongst my other published work on twentieth-century and contemporary authors are journal articles on Mohsin Hamid and Mirza Waheed; chapters in the Cambridge Companions to E.M. Forster and Salman Rushdie (both 2007); a chapter on Black British and Asian writing in Peter Boxall and Bryan Cheyette (eds.) The Oxford History of the Novel in English, Vol. VII: British and Irish Fiction since 1940 (2016); and an essay on Hari Kunzru in Len Platt and Sarah Upstone’s Postmodern Literature and Race (2015). In addition, I have recent essays on postsecularism, diaspora, and Neo-Orientalism and Islamophobia in forthcoming journal numbers and edited collections.
Papers presented (including keynotes):
- Sep 2017 - ‘Liberal Orientalism and the Battle over Space in Amy Waldman’s The Submission’, at 2017 PSA Convention, Senate House, London.
- July 2017 - ‘Islamophobia and the Politics of Space in H.M. Naqvi’s Home Boy’, at English: Shared Futures, Newcastle Civic Centre.
- Nov 2016 - ‘Culture as a Tool to Build Trust’, at Security and the Arts and Humanities seminar, Royal United Service Institute, London.
- June 2016 - ‘Trust and Culture in a Diverse Society’, at Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations seminar series, Coventry University.
- April 2016 - ‘How interesting it would be to write a book about this family’: Trust and Truth Claims in The Bookseller of Kabul’, at Literature and Trust Network, Aarhus University, Denmark.
- Nov 2015 - 'Framing Freedom’, at SOAS-Nohoudh Muslim Integration Conference Brunei Gallery, London.
- May 2015 - ‘Muslims and Trust’, invited panellist at Bradford Literature Festival (with Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, Hassan Mahamdallie and Sayeeda Warsi)
- Feb 2015 - ‘“Halal Fiction” and the Limits of Postsecularism’, at Global Halal, Michigan State University.
- June 2014 - ‘Islamophobia and the Novel’, at British Culture after 9/11, Teesside University. (Keynote Address)
- June 2014 - ‘Muslim Misery Memoirs: Exotic Suffering, Truth and Genre’, at Beyond Islamophobia, SOAS, University of London.
- June 2013 - ‘Framing Trust: Impression Management and the Multiculturalism Debate’, at Muslims, Multiculturalism and Trust: New Directions, SOAS, University of London.
- Mar 2013 - ‘Putting the Culture Back in Multiculturalism’, at Institute for Cultural Diplomacy, Cultural Bridges Conference, London.
- Nov 2012 - ‘”How Stories Travel”: Worlding the 9/11 Novel in Nadeem Aslam’s The Wasted Vigil’, at South Asian Fictions: Contemporary Transformations, Institute of English Studies, London.
- Sep 2012 - ‘World Literature and Multicultural Textualities’, at Crafts of World Literature, Faculty of English, University of Oxford.
- April 2012 - ‘Framing Muslims: The Fundamentals’, School of English Research Colloquium, University of Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan.
- Feb 2012 - ‘The Black Album and the Illusions of Cultural Identity’, at In Analysis: The Work of Hanif Kureishi, University of Roehampton, UK
- June 2011 - ‘Limits of the Sacred’, at conference Empowerment and the Sacred, University of Leeds
- Feb 2011 - ‘Liberal Multiculturalism and the Authentic Fallacy: the Limits of Cultural Identity’, at Multiculturalism in a Globalised Society: European Muslims, Identity and Citizenship, University of Northampton, UK.
- Nov 2010 - ‘Mourning Becomes Kashmira: Melancholia, and the Evacuation of Politics in Salman Rushdie’s Shalimar the Clown’, at conference The Depoliticization of 9/11, University of Newcastle.
- June 2010 - ‘Crossing Borders in Dan Fesperman’s The Warlord’s Son’, at Before and After 9/11: American Literature and Culture, University of Leicester, UK.
- May 2010 - ' "The Rules of the Game have Changed": Violence, Fiction and Form post-9/11', at conference Literature and Violence, University of Kent
- Nov 2009 - ‘Passing Strangers: Playing Around with Stereotypes in Spooks’ at Representing the War on Terror: post-9/11 television drama and documentary, University of Glamorgan, Cardiff.
- June 2009 - ‘How (not) to Recognise a Muslim Stereotype: the Spooks Controversy’, at Framing Muslims: New Directions, Ferguson Centre, The Open University.
- May 2009 - ‘Race, Representation and Authenticity: the Case of the “Muslim Letter”’, for the Muslims in Europe Research Group, Free University, Berlin, Germany.
- April 2009 - ‘Framing Muslims in Contemporary British Television Drama’, at Britain and the Muslim World, University of Exeter.
- May 2008 - ‘Terrorvision: Muslims in Television Thrillers post-9/11’, at symposium Race, Nation, Diaspora: Muslims in the New World Order, University of California, Irvine, USA.
- April 2008 - ‘Reporting 7/7: Race and the Limits of Multiculturalism’, at conference Muslims, Race and the Public Sphere, Michigan State University, USA.
- Oct 2007 - ‘Stereotypes and Strangers in Film and Television Drama since 9/11’, at Inter-University Postcolonial Seminar Series, Senate House, University of London.
- July 2007 - ‘Rethinking the Stereotype: Ontology and Performativity in Contemporary Public Discourses on Muslims’, at conference Re-Routing the Postcolonial, University of Northampton, UK.
- Feb 2007 - ‘You’ve Been Framed: Stereotype, Performativity and the Lever of Intervention in Yasmin’, at conference Cosmopolitanism: Thinking Beyond the Nation, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL, USA.
- April 2006 - ‘The Limits of Imagination: Salman Rushdie and the English Tradition’, South Asia Initiative (Humanities Center), Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.