Dr Sadiah Qureshi

Dr Sadiah Qureshi

Department of History
Senior Lecturer in Modern History

Contact details

Arts Building, History 354
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

At the broadest level, I am a cultural and social historian of race, science and empire in the modern world.


  • BA Hons, M.Phil and PhD, University of Cambridge


I joined the School of History of Cultures as a Lecturer in Modern History in September 2011. This followed on from a postdoctoral research fellowship with the Cambridge Victorian Studies Group on a five-year Leverhulme funded project entitled ‘Past versus Present: Abandoning the Past in an Age of Progress’ which explored Victorian notions of the past. Before this, I studied as both an undergraduate and postgraduate at Christ’s College, Cambridge.


Below is a list of modules I have taught in the past, or will soon teach.


First year

  • 'The Making of the Contemporary World,(1800-present day)'
  • Practising History 1: ‘Representing Race in Modern Britain: Exhibitions, Empire and Entertainment in Modern Britain, 1886-1936’
  • Practising History 2: 'Empires in Perspective' on writing the history of British imperialism

Second year

  • 'Empire on Display', Group Research Module
  • Research Methods (Dissertation Preparation)
  • Black British and Asian History, Option to be offered from September 2018

Third year

  • 'Genocide: An Interdisciplinary Perspective', Advanced Option Module
  • Dissertations. I'm happy to discuss dissertations relating to race, science and empire with students. Please email me to arrange a meeting or drop by in my office hours.


  • Global Histories: Comparisons and Connections (Convenor and tutor)
  • Making Sense of the World: Themes in Global History (Convenor and tutor)
  • Historical Methods (tutor)

Global history

In 2013, the School of History and Cultures I led the design and launch of a new MA in Global History. It is currently being convened by Dr Courtney J. Campbell. If you have any questions about the course, please contact her on c.j.campbell@bham.ac.uk. For more information you can also see the  MA Global History coursefinder entry.

Postgraduate supervision

PhD supervision

My current and past postgraduate research students include:

  • Robert W. Brown, ‘Anglo-Australian racial science, trans-hemispheric transactions, and the "yellow peril" in the Anglosphere, 1850-1960’, awarded 2017. Co-supervised with Prof Gavin Schaffer.
  • Lead supervisor for Shahmima Akhtar, on exhibitions of Irish peoples, funded by AHRC Midland3Cities.
  • Co-supervisor for Nicola J. Tonks, on Victorian notions of death, funded by AHRC Midland3Cities.
  • Co-supervisor for Andrew Walmisley, on Hawaiian missionaries.
  • Co-supervisor for Howard Carlton, on Victorian astronomy.

Possible supervision topics

I am happy to discuss offering postgraduate supervision topics relating to the modern history of race, science and empire. I would be especially interested in working with students interested in histories of exhibitions or world fairs, anthropology, racial theory, genocide and settler colonialism and extinction. If you are interested in working on South Asia, in the first instance please contact my colleague Manu Sehgal.

Find out more - our PhD History  page has information about doctoral research at the University of Birmingham.


My research explores the ways in which racialised knowledge is produced, circulated and mobilised in the modern world. I’m most interested in how such knowledge is used to create hierarchies of value between peoples and the legacies of past discrimination in relationship to contemporary issues of equity and social justice.

My first book, Peoples on Parade, provided the first substantial survey of the commercial exhibition of displayed peoples in nineteenth-century Britain. It explored the importance of such shows for intercultural encounter and notions of racial difference, particularly for should the development of anthropology as a discipline. It was joint winner of the Sonya Rudikoff Prize for the best first book in Victorian Studies published in 2011 awarded by the Northeast Victorian Studies Association.

I am currently working on the history of extinction for my second book, provisionally entitled Vanished: Episodes in the History of Extinction. Drawing on histories of genocide, settler colonial studies and animal studies, my book will explore how the very notion of extinction emerged and shaped our relationship with the natural world in the Anthropocene.

In 2012, my research was awarded a Philip Leverhulme Prize in Medieval, Early Modern and Modern History by the Leverhulme Trust.

Other activities

'George Catlin: American Indian portraits', National Portrait Gallery, London

Between 2012 and 2013, I was involved in a project with the National Portrait Gallery. A group of my students online content for the NPG's website and gave gallery talks in conjunction with the George Catlin: American Indian Portraits. To find out more about the exhibition see the exhibition's microsite where you can also find the students' films. You can also read blog posts about the project by Sophie Edwards and Shahmima Akhtar.

Our migration story

This website is an important and major new resource supporting GCSE students studying the history of migration to the UK. It was sponsored by the Runnymede Trust. You can find out more about why the history of migration is so important from Malachi McIntosh, who set-up and led the project. I contributed an article on Exhibiting Foreigners: The Case of Performing ‘Prince’ Lobengula.

Editorial and advisory


I regularly give talks for public and academic audiences. Previously, I’ve spoken in venues such as Princeton University, Yale University, University of Cambridge, University of Oxford, the Max Planck Institute (Berlin), Quai Branly (Paris) and the National Portrait Gallery (London).



Articles and essays

Reference works

  • 'Great Exposition of 1851 (Crystal Palace)' in R. Jon McGee and Richard L. Warms, eds, 'Theory in Social and Cultural Anthropology' (Sage, 2013).
  • 'Ethnological Exhibitions' in Patrick L. Mason, ed., 'Encyclopaedia of Race and Racism', 2nd edn (Macmillan USA, 2013).

Literary reviews

  • ‘We Prefer their Company’, on David Olusoga, Black and British: A Forgotten History, London Review of Books, 15 June, pp. 39–40 (2017).
  • ‘Star-Spangled Racism’, on Ibram X. Kendi, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, New Statesman, 11 August (2017).

Short articles and blogs


View all publications in research portal