Professor Siobhan Lambert-Hurley
BA (University of British Columbia) and PhD (School of Oriental and African Studies, London
Department of History
Professor of Global History
Director of Research and Innovation
+44 114 22 22586
Full contact details
Department of History
1 Upper Hanover Street
I completed my BA in Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver before moving to the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London to study for my PhD in History.
I joined the History Department at the University of Sheffield in 2015 from the Department of Politics, History and International Relations at Loughborough University.
My research on women, gender and Islam in South Asia has been funded by the Leverhulme Trust, the AHRC, the British Academy, HEFCE, and the Social Studies and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and I was visiting faculty at the University of British Columbia in 2013-14 and 2017.
I led an international research network funded by the AHRC on ‘Women’s Autobiography in Islamic Societies’ and a teaching project funded by the Higher Education Academy on ‘Accessing Muslim Lives: Translating and Digitising Autobiographical writing for Teaching and Learning’.
From 2015-18, I led a Leverhulme Trust-funded project on 'Veiled Voyagers: Muslim Women Travellers from Asia and the Middle East'.
I recently wrapped up a QR GCRF project entitled 'Advancing Female Literacy and Empowerment in Pakistan and India through Life Writing' (2019-21).
My current project funded by a GCRF-AHRC partnership award is 'Forgotten Food: Culinary Memory, Local Heritage and Lost Agricultural Varieties in India' (2019-22).
- Research interests
I am a cultural historian of modern South Asia with particular interests in women, gender and Islam. I have written on education, social and political organisations, Indian princely states, the culture of travel, missionaries, food and personal narratives. There is a strong interdisciplinary aspect to my research reflected in my analyses of how different literary genres, including reformist writing, travelogues and autobiography, have evolved in South Asia in the modern period.
My early work focused on Muslim women’s participation in socio-religious reform movements in India in the early twentieth century. My first monograph, Muslim Women, Reform and Princely Patronage (Routledge, 2007), emphasised the role of Nawab Sultan Jahan Begam of Bhopal, the female ruler of a Muslim principality in central India, in providing essential leadership and patronage to a burgeoning network of Indian women reformers. Emerging out of this work were two book projects that used travel writing by South Asian Muslim women to offer insights into imperial and global history: an edited edition of a nineteenth century hajj narrative entitled A Princess’s Pilgrimage: Sikandar Begam’s A Pilgrimage to Mecca (Indiana University Press, 2008) and a co-authored book with Sunil Sharma entitled Atiya’s Journeys: A Muslim Woman from Colonial Bombay to Edwardian Britain (Oxford University Press, 2010). The latter’s significance to a project of historicising a multicultural Britain also led to contributions to the AHRC project, ‘Making Britain: South Asian Visions of Home and Abroad, 1870-1950’
My next project focused on autobiographical writing by Muslim women in South Asia. The aim was to trace changing notions of the self in the modern period by examining how women write their lives in a social and cultural context that idealises women’s anonymity. This research has led to journal articles in Modern Asian Studies, Journal of Women’s History and Journal of the History of Sexuality, as well as two major book projects: an edited volume with Anshu Malhotra entitled Speaking of the Self: Gender, Performance and Autobiography in South Asia (Duke University Press, 2015; Zubaan, 2017) and a monograph entitled Elusive Lives: Gender, Autobiography and the Self in Muslim South Asia (Stanford University Press, 2018). Connected was my leadership of an international research network funded by the AHRC on ‘Women’s Autobiography in Islamic Societies’ (2010-11) and a teaching project funded by the Higher Education Academy on 'Accessing Muslim Lives: Translating and Digitising Autobiographical Writings for Teaching and Learning'.
From autobiography, I turned to travel writing. From 2015-18, I led a three-year project entitled 'Veiled Voyagers: Muslim Women Travellers from Asia and the Middle East' funded by the Leverhulme Trust. It was a collaborative project with Sunil Sharma (Boston University) and Daniel Majchrowicz (Northwestern University). Veiled Voyagers recovered, translated, annotated and analyzed Muslim women’s travel writing from a range of languages in order to draw out the gendered relationships that inhere between travel and Muslim identities, nationalism, and the shaping of global power. The project’s main output is Three Centuries of Travel Writing by Muslim Women (Indiana University Press, 2022). There is also an online repository of Muslim women’s travel texts in both the original and translation.
More recently, my research has shifted to address global challenges linked to the UN's sustainable development goals. First off, I led a QR GCRF project entitled 'Advancing Female Literacy and Empowerment in Pakistan and India through Life Writing' (2019-21). It used historical research linked to women's life writing to advance female literacy and empowerment in Pakistan and India through two linked strands: (i) Biography as Inspiration; and (ii) Autobiography as Voice. Resources and programmes were developed through collaboration with established NGO partners in Pakistan and India, including Bunyad Foundation, Abdul Aleem Khan Foundation, Pakistan's Children and Mahashakti Keva Sendra (see 'Public Engagement' for more information).
Currently, I am leading a GCRF-AHRC project on 'Forgotten Food: Culinary Memory, Local Heritage and Lost Agricultural Varieties in India' (2019-22). Bringing food historians, sociologists, literary scholars and plant scientists into dialogue with heritage practitioners, authors, cooks and street vendors, it addresses challenges linked to local communities and food sustainability in India. On the context and thinking behind this project, see my article in Scroll.in. On our rice-growing programme, see 'Saving tilak chandan's fragrance: Why a field in Rampur is growing an heirloom rice variety', The Indian Express, 28 December 2020.
- Elusive Lives: Gender, Autobiography, and the Self in Muslim South Asia. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
- Elusive Lives. Stanford University Press.
- Atiya's Journeys: A Muslim Woman from Colonial Bombay to Edwardian Britain. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Muslim Women, Reform and Princely Patronage. Routledge.
- Speaking of the Self: Gender, Performance and Autobiography in South Asia. New Delhi: Zubaan.
- Speaking of the Self: Gender, Performance, and Autobiography in South Asia. Durham NC: Duke University Press.
- A Princess's Pilgrimage: Nawab Sikandar Begum's A Pilgrimage to Mecca. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.
- Rhetoric and Reality: Gender and the Colonial Experience in South Asia. Delhi: Oxford University Press.
- To Write of the Conjugal Act: Intimacy and Sexuality in Muslim Women's Autobiographical Writing in South Asia. Journal of the History of Sexuality, 23(2), 155-181.
- The Heart of a Gopi: Raihana Tyabji's Bhakti Devotionalism as Self-Representation. Modern Asian Studies, 48(3), 569-595.
- Life/History/Archive: Identifying Autobiographical Writing by Muslim Women in South Asia. Journal of Women's History, 25(2), 61-84.
- Book Reviews. Gender, Place & Culture, 17(1), 115-128.
- Courtly Indian women in late imperial India. GENDER PLACE AND CULTURE, 17(1), 120-122.
- XIIâMiddle East, Asia, Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. Annual Bulletin of Historical Literature, 93(1), 183-199.
- XII Middle East, Asia, Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. Annual Bulletin of Historical Literature, 90(1), 207-232.
- XII Middle East, Asia, Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. Annual Bulletin of Historical Literature, 89(1), 204-230.
- The garden of the eight paradises: Babur and the culture of empire in central Asia, Afghanistan, and India (1483-1530).. JOURNAL OF ASIAN STUDIES, 64(2), 491-492.
- XII Middle East, Asia, Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. Annual Bulletin of Historical Literature, 88(1), 195-243.
- Fostering Sisterhood: Muslim Women and the All-India Ladies' Association. Journal of Women's History, 16(2), 40-65.
- XII Middle East, Asia, Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. Annual Bulletin of Historical Literature, 87(1), 191-224.
- Princes, Paramountcy and the Politics of Muslim Identity: The Begam of Bhopal on the Indian National Stage, 1901–1926. South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, 26(2), 165-191.
- A History of India, by Burton SteinA History of India, by Burton Stein. Oxford, England, Blackwell Publishers, 1998. xvi, 432 pp. $26.95.. Canadian Journal of History, 34(3), 497-498.
- Out of India: The Journeys of the Begam of Bhopal, 1901-1930. Women's Studies International Forum, 21(3), 293-309.
- 9. The Heart of a Gopi: Raihana Tyabji’s Bhakti Devotionalism as Self-Representation, Speaking of the Self (pp. 230-254). Duke University Press
- Introduction. Gender, Performance, and Autobiography in South Asia, Speaking of the Self (pp. 1-30). Duke University Press
- A NOTE ON TRANSLITERATION, Elusive Lives (pp. ix-xii). Stanford University Press
- 3. The Autobiographical Map, Elusive Lives (pp. 97-124). Stanford University Press
- Bibliography, Elusive Lives (pp. 249-272). Stanford University Press
- Introduction: The Ultimate Unveiling, Elusive Lives (pp. 1-28). Stanford University Press
- Coda: Unveiling and Its Attributes, Elusive Lives (pp. 189-194). Stanford University Press
- 1. Life/History/Archive, Elusive Lives (pp. 29-56). Stanford University Press
- 4. Staging the Self, Elusive Lives (pp. 125-154). Stanford University Press
- 2. The Sociology of Authorship, Elusive Lives (pp. 57-96). Stanford University Press
- 5. Autobiographical Genealogies, Elusive Lives (pp. 155-188). Stanford University Press
- Narrating Trauma, Constructing Binaries, Affirming Agency: Partition in Muslim Women’s Autobiographical Writing In Murphy A & Mahn C (Ed.), Partition and the Practice of Memory (pp. 115-136). London: Palgrave Macmillan. View this article in WRRO
- Forging Global Networks in the Imperial Era: Atiya Fyzee in Edwardian London, India in Britain (pp. 64-79). Palgrave Macmillan UK
- India in Britain Palgrave Macmillan UK
- Introduction, Atiya's Journeys (pp. 1-10). Oxford University Press
- Friendship and Notoriety, Shibli and Iqbal, Atiya's Journeys (pp. 49-61). Oxford University Press
- A Life Dedicated to Learning and the Arts, Atiya's Journeys (pp. 17-42). Oxford University Press
- Narrating the Everyday, Atiya's Journeys (pp. 83-96). Oxford University Press
- Empire, Society, Diasporic Communities, Atiya's Journeys (pp. 65-78). Oxford University Press
- Conclusions, Atiya's Journeys (pp. 100-105). Oxford University Press
- Zamana-i-tahsil, Atiya's Journeys (pp. 109-216). Oxford University Press
- Behind the Veil Palgrave Macmillan UK
- Muslim Women Write Their Journeys Abroad: A Bibliographic Essay In Bhattacharji S (Ed.), Travel Writing in India (pp. 28-39). Delhi: Sahitya Akademi.
- Subtle Subversions And Presumptuous Interventions: Reforming Women’s Health in Bhopal State in the Early Twentieth Century, Behind the Veil (pp. 116-138). Palgrave Macmillan UK
- Subtle Subversions and Presumptuous Interventions: Reforming Women’s Health in Bhopal State In Ghosh A (Ed.), Behind the Veil: Resistance, Women and the Everyday in Colonial South Asia (pp. 116-138). Delhi: Permanent Black.
- Out of India: The Journeys of the Begam of Bhopal, 1901-1930 In Ballantyne T & Burton A (Ed.), Bodies in Contact: Rethinking Colonial Encounters in World History (pp. 293-309). Durham NC: Duke University Press.
- Introduction: A Princess Revealed, Memoirs of a Rebel Princess (pp. xiii-xxxix). Karachi: Oxford University Press.
- The Heart of a Gopi, Speaking of the Self (pp. 230-254). Duke University Press
- India's Princely States Routledge
- A Princess's Pilgrimage: Nawab Sikandar Begam's Account of Hajj, Travel Writing in the Nineteenth Century (pp. 107-128). Anthem Press
- Research group
- White Rose South Asia Network
- Migration Research Group
- Sheffield Institute of International Development
- Centre for Contemporary and Modern History
I welcome research students interested in women’s history, Islam, autobiography, the culture of travel, education, food and/or princely states in modern South Asia.
- Completed students
- Maxmillian Drephal, ‘The British Legation in Kabul: The Coloniality of Diplomacy in Independent Afghanistan, 1922-48’, (Loughborough University).
- GCRF-AHRC Project Grant, November 2019-October 2022: Principal investigator for collaborative research and impact project entitled ‘Forgotten Food: Culinary Memory, Local Heritage and Lost Agricultural Varieties in India’
- Sustainable Partnership Award, QR GCRF, May 2019-July 2021: Principal investigator for collaborative research and impact project entitled ‘Advancing Female Literacy and Empowerment in Pakistan and India through Life Writing’
- Leverhulme Project Grant, The Leverhulme Trust, September 2015-August 2018: Principal investigator for collaborative research project entitled ‘Veiled Voyagers: Muslim Women Travellers from Asia and the Middle East’.
- Leverhulme Research Fellowship, The Leverhulme Trust, August 2013-August 2014: Principal investigator for project entitled ‘The Self Unveiled: Autobiographical Writings by Muslim Women in South Asia’.
- Islamic Studies Network, Higher Education Authority, January 2011-January 2012: Principal investigator for project entitled ‘Accessing Muslim Lives: Translating and Digitising Autobiographical Writings for Teaching and Learning’.
- International Research Network Grant, Arts and Humanities Research Council, January 2010-December 2011: Principal investigator for international research network entitled ‘Women’s Autobiography in Islamic Societies: The Ultimate Unveiling?’
- Teaching interests
Global, Islamic and South Asian history
- Teaching activities
- HST117 - The Making of the Twentieth Century
- HST120 - History Workshop: Debating the British Empire
- HST21009 - Asian Britain: Travel, Migration, Diaspora
- HST3307 - Decolonising History: Empires, Colonialism and Power
- HST6066 - Autobiography, Identity and the Self in Muslim South Asia
- HST6606 - The World in Connection: Themes in Global History
- HST61019 - Worlds of Labour: Working Class Lives in Colonial South Asia
- Professional activities
- Co-editor, Gender & History
- Journal of Pakistan Women’s Studies – Member of Advisory Board
- Women and Society: Journal for the Centre for Women’s Studies, Aligarh Muslim University - Member of Advisory Board
My main administrative roles at the University of Sheffield are linked to the Department of History’s Research and Innovation Committee. I have acted as Departmental Director of Research (from spring 2018) and, before that Deputy Director of Research (2015-16, autumn 2017). I have also fulfilled the roles of Impact Case Study Lead, Public Engagement Officer, Ethics Officer, Equality & Diversity Officer and Library Liaison Officer. I have sat on the steering committees for the Humanities Research Institute and the Centre for Contemporary and Modern History. I am faculty liaison to the India Country Group and History liaison to the Sheffield Institute of International Development, as well as a Department and Faculty Mentor to several early career staff. I convene the MA in Global History and act as a personal tutor to MA students. I also lead the White Rose South Asia Network.
- Public engagement
I have shown my commitment to public engagement with South Asian and Muslim history in a number of ways. Both of my challenge-focused research projects support a wide range of public activities in India and Pakistan, including a series on culinary history for Scroll.in, a heritage food festival in Rampur (autumn 2022) and educational programmes for girls and women delivered through local NGOs. Popular publications from the projects include: Desi Delicacies: Food Writing from Muslim South Asia, ed. Claire Chambers (PanMacmillan, 2021) (published in the UK by Beacon Books under the title Dastarkhwan: Food Writing from Muslim South Asia). We have also produced a series of six children's books (in English and Urdu) on inspirational Muslim women from South Asian history, and a virtual rekhtigoi performance, The Incomparable Festival (Jashn-e Benazir). My work with Mahashakti Seva Kendra is captured in a documentary.
With a grant from the Higher Education Academy and further funding from the Leverhulme Trust and Sheffield's Arts Enterprise, I developed a new digital archive, ‘Accessing Muslim Lives’, in collaboration with partners at the University of Oxford and Northwestern University. Though used primarily in higher education, it also enables the general public to explore the lives of men and women in the Muslim world from the sixteenth century to now through their autobiographical writings.
I have worked with Dead Earnest Theatre in Sheffield to produce an immersive theatre and virtual performance based on my research entitled 'Veiled Voyagers - a Mahfil'. This project was showcased at Festival of the Mind 2018, Migration Matters 2019 and South Asian Heritage Month 2020. An audio play based on this performance is available here.
I have given a number of public talks, including at the Bloomsbury Festival in London, the Faiz International Festival in Lahore and the Sanchaari Sanskritik Parv in Allahabad. I have also delivered lectures for A-level students, and I am pursuing further links with schools, using the history of South Asians in Britain to facilitate discussion of multiculturalism and citizenship.
In the media:
I have also worked as a contributor and consultant on a number of historical documentary projects for the BBC and other television networks. Programmes on which I have appeared include ‘The Maharara’s Motor Car: The Story of Rolls Royce in India’ and ‘Heir Hunters’.
I have also published journalistic pieces in the British and Indian press for magazines and newspapers, like City Limits, Outlook Traveller, The Hindustan Times, Quartz India and The Independent. Recent pieces include:
- “India has barely scratched the surface of its rich food heritage”, Scroll.in, 13 July 2020
- “Empowering Women through History: The Begams’ Bhopal” (with Nafhesa Ali), History Matters, 6 March 2020
- “Indian Students at British Universities is a tradition we should cherish and protect”, The Conversation, 16th December 2016
- “Muslim women can get protection under sharia”, Hindustan Times (Delhi), 5 October 2016