Sadiah Qureshi


Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Possible supervision topics
I am happy to discuss offering postgraduate supervision relating to the history of race, science and empire within the British Empire. I am 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.

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


Research activity per year

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Personal profile


I joined the School of History of Cultures at the University of Birmingham as a Lecturer in Modern History in September 2011, although I grew up in the city. 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. My journey from inner city schools to Cambridge, and coming back to Birmingham, fostered a profound passion for making higher education accessible to all, and in the importance of public history.

Research interests

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 in being human, and the legacies of such ideas in the present day.

My first book, Peoples on Parade, is a prize-winning, 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 writing 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 science, genocide, settler colonialism, environmentalism, animals, and museums, 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 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.


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