Colleges, School and Institutes
My interest in narrative and power began as a postgraduate student with a Masters in Twentieth-Century Literature at Sussex, specialising in my dissertation on the work of J.G.Farrell. For my doctorate, also at Sussex, I undertook a study of narrative and ideology in four British writers on India – Kipling, Forster, Masters and Scott. This became the basis of my first book, Fictions of India: Narrative and Power. Thereafter, I worked extensively on the literature of the South Asian diaspora, producing a single-author study of Rohinton Mistry, and writing numerous chapters, essays and journal articles. More recently, I have focussed on minority/majority relations as played out in literature, thinking about the links between those same questions of form and content that can also be seen operating in popular narratives about, for example, multiculturalism, or the Muslim ‘Other’.
My new book, Islamophobia and the Novel will be published by Columbia University Press in 2018. I have received two substantial funding awards for projects entitled Framing Muslims and Muslims, Trust and Cultural Dialogue. Issues of narrative and power continue to inform my current work which focuses on questions of trust, empathy and interculturalism (the latter understood as a dynamic process, rather than an achieved state or a political programme).
After my DPhil, I taught postcolonial, modern and contemporary literature modules at the Universities of Sussex, Leeds, and Worcester. Subsequently, I taught for many years at the University of East London, devising and delivering modules covering literature from the eighteenth century rise of the novel to the present day, as well as being subject head for three years, assisting in preparations for REF, and serving on various committees.
I joined the University of Birmingham in 2017 and currently teach on contemporary and postcolonial literature modules and supervise undergraduate dissertations.
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.
Willingness to take PhD students
I have experience of supervising PhD students working on South Asian diaspora literature, and globalisation and literature.
I welcome research proposals in these areas, and also on questions of narrative and power; literature and cultural difference; literature and the War on Terror; and writing on Muslim minorities in the West.