Dr Sadiah Qureshi

Department of History
Senior Lecturer in Modern History

Contact details

Address
Arts Building, History 354
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston
Birmingham
B15 2TT
UK

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

Qualifications

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

Biography

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 the University of Cambridge.

Teaching

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

Undergraduate

Options

My current optional modules are as follows:

  • ‘There Is Black in the Union Jack’: Black and South Asian British Histories
  • Vanished: Extinction from the Dodo to Extinction Rebellion
  • Empire at Home: Collecting and Displaying the Modern World
  • Genocide: An Interdisciplinary Perspective

Postgraduate

Options

 

  • ‘We Are Here Because you Were There: Black and South Asian Histories of Britain’

 

MA in 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

Possible supervision topics
I am happy to discuss offering postgraduate supervision topics relating to the history of race, science and empire within the British Empire. I would be especially interested in working with students interested in display and visual culture, racial theory, extinction and Black and South Asian histories of Britain. If you are interested in working on South Asia, in the first instance please contact my colleague Manu Sehgal. If you are interested in African history, please consult the website for the Department of African Studies and Anthropology to find suitable supervisors.

Current PhD Students
Co-supervisor, Montaz Marché, on Black women in eighteenth-century Britain.
Co-supervisor, Bethany Parkes, on notions of race and beauty.

Completed PhD Students
Lead supervisor, Shahmima Akhtar, on the displayed Irish. Currently a lecturer in history at Royal Holloway, University of London.
Co-supervisor, Howard Carlton, on Victorian astronomy.
Co-supervised Robert Brown, on racial science.


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

Research

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, is a landmark survey of the commercial exhibition of displayed peoples in nineteenth-century Britain. It explores the importance of such shows for intercultural encounter and notions of racial difference, particularly for the development of anthropology as a discipline. 

I am currently working on the history of extinction for my second book, provisionally entitled Vanished: Episodes in the History of Extinction, which is under contract with Allen Lane, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Drawing on histories of genocide, settler colonial studies, environmental histories and animal studies, my book will explore how the very notion of extinction emerged and shaped our relationship with the natural world and human cultures in the Anthropocene.

Talks and Podcasts
You can watch me discuss my research on extinction for the British Academy’s Why History? Vanished: Extinction Past and Present lecture, and ONCA’s Lost Species Day 2020 events. You can listen to me in Bonnie Greer’s In Search of Black History and Stephen Fry’s Victorian Secrets for Audible podcasts. I’ve also appeared in an episode of Marc Fennell’s Stuff the British Stole for ABC Radio National and Sushma Jansari’s The Wonder House podcasts.


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) and the inaugural HistFest.

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


In 2013, the Northeast Victorian Studies Association jointly awarded my book, Peoples on Parade, the Rudikoff Prize for the best first book in Victorian Studies published in 2011.


In 2020, I was awarded a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship to support my research on extinction.

Other activities

Public History and racial equity have always been central aspects of my practice. Below is a small selection of relevant activities.

Working groups

Since 2019, I have co-chaired the Royal Historical Society’s Race, Ethnicity & Equality Working Group, with my colleague Dr Jonathan Saha, after serving as a member of the group from 2017. In 2018, the Working Group co-authored a landmark report on racial inequalities within history as a discipline and UK higher education. You can read more about the substantial impact of the report on the Royal Historical Society’s website.

Between 2019 and 2021, I was a member of the Museum Association’s Decolonisation Guidance Working Group. As a member of the group, I contributed to the Museum Association’s Supporting Decolonisation in Museums 2021 report, which provides sector wide guidance.

Editorial, advisory and prize judging

Among other commitments, I currently serve advisory council of the Institute of Historical Research, London, and on the Wellcome Trust’s Early Career Advisory Groups Shortlisting Group, which follows on from my contributions to their Medical Humanities Early Career Expert Review Group. I am currently a member of History Workshop Journal editorial collective and on the editorial Board for the English Historical Review. I previously served on the Council for the British Society for the History of Science (2017–20). In this role, I also served as a judge for the Hughes Prize and Pickstone Prize. I previously served on the editorial board of Early Popular Visual Culture and advisory board for the relaunched History of Anthropology Newsletter.

I judged the inaugural Olivette Otele Prize judge, awarded by Institute for Historical Research in 2021. I have also judged the Hughes Prize and Pickstone Prize awarded by the British Society for the History of Science.

Flux: parian unpacked

In 2017, I advised on imperial violence and decolonizing museums for this exhibition of Victorian Parian ware curated by Matt Smith and held at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. I also wrote an essay for the exhibition catalogue. You can watch me chairing a discussion between Hew Locke and Matt Smith on Commemorating and Contesting Empire with Victorian Ceramics which touches on Parian Ware.

Our migration story

Launched in 2016, this prize-winning website is a major resource supporting GCSE students studying the history of migration to the UK. It was sponsored by the Runnymede Trust. I contributed an article on Exhibiting Foreigners: The Case of Performing ‘Prince’ Lobengula.

'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.

Publications

Highlight publications

Qureshi, S 2011, Peoples on Parade: Exhibitions, Empire, and Anthropology in Nineteenth-Century Britain. University of Chicago Press.

Qureshi, S 2020, Time Travelers: Victorian Encounters with Time and History. University of Chicago Press.

Decolonisation Guidance Working Group 2021, Supporting Decolonisation in Museums. <https://www.museumsassociation.org/campaigns/decolonising-museums/supporting-decolonisation-in-museums/>

Qureshi, S 2018, Race, Ethnicity & Equality in UK History: A Report and Resource for Change.

Recent publications

Article

Qureshi, S 2018, 'Short Cuts', London Review of Books.

Qureshi, S 2012, 'Peopling the landscape: Showmen, displayed peoples and travel illustration in nineteenth-century Britain', Early Popular Visual Culture, vol. 10, no. 1, pp. 23-36. https://doi.org/10.1080/17460654.2012.638804

Qureshi, S 2011, 'Robert Gordon Latham, Displayed Peoples and the Natural History of Race, 1854-1866', The Historical Journal, vol. 54, no. 1, pp. 143-166. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0018246X10000609

Qureshi, S 2004, 'Displaying Sara Baartman, the ‘Hottentot Venus’', History of Science, vol. 42, no. 2, pp. 233-257. https://doi.org/10.1177/007327530404200204

Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Qureshi, S 2020, Looking to our ancestors. in A Buckland & S Qureshi (eds), Time Travelers: Victorian Encounters with Time and History. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL. <https://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/T/bo50699947.html>

Qureshi, S 2017, Science, empire and globalization in the nineteenth century. in J Holmes & S Ruston (eds), The Routledge Research Companion to Nineteenth-Century British Literature and Science. Routledge, pp. 19-29.

Qureshi, S 2014, Dramas of Development: Exhibitions and Evolution in Victorian Britain. in B Lightman & B Zon (eds), Evolution and victorian culture. Cambridge Studies in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 261-285. <http://www.cambridge.org/us/academic/subjects/literature/english-literature-1830-1900/evolution-and-victorian-culture?format=HB&isbn=9781107028425#9OtfeRm4hdHKoWqR.97>

Qureshi, S 2012, Meeting the Zulus: Displayed Peoples, British Imperialism and the Shows of London, 1853–1879. in J Kember, J Plunkett & J Sullivan (eds), opular Exhibitions, Science and Showmanship, 1840–1914. Science and Culture in the Nineteenth Century, Pickering and Chatto, London, pp. 183-198.

Qureshi, S 2012, Tipu's Tiger and Images of India 1799-2010. in S Longair & J McAleer (eds), Curating Empire: Museums and the British Imperial Experience. Manchester University Press, pp. 207-224.

Chapter

Qureshi, S 2019, A Manifesto for Survival. in To Exist is to Resist : Black Feminism in Europe.

Qureshi, S 2018, Peopling Natural History. in H Curry, N Jardine, JA Secord & EC Spary (eds), Worlds of Natural History. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 363-378. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108225229.023

Qureshi, S 2013, Dying Americans: Race Extinction and Conservation in the New World. in A Swenson & PM (eds), From Plunder to Preservation: Britain and the Heritage of Empire. 1800-1950. Oxford University Press, pp. 269-288.

Book/Film/Article review

Qureshi, S 2017, ''Star-Spangled Racism'' New Statesman, pp. 44-45. <https://www.newstatesman.com/culture/books/2017/08/stamped-beginning-charts-uncomfortable-history-american-racism>

Qureshi, S 2017, ''We Prefer their Company'' London Review of Books, pp. 39-40. <https://www.lrb.co.uk/v39/n12/sadiah-qureshi/we-prefer-their-company>

Review article

Qureshi, S 2020, 'Dodos and Dinosaurs: The History of Extinction', Times Literary Supplement.

View all publications in research portal