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Associate Professor in British Colonial History, University of Leeds

After graduating with an MA (Hons) in History from the University of Edinburgh in 1998, I went on to do an M.Sc. by Research and Ph.D. at the same institution. The subject of my postgraduate work reflected an interest in issues of gender and empire in India that I had developed during undergraduate courses on colonialism. My Master's dissertation focused on the child marriage and age of consent debates in 1920s India, while my doctoral thesis looked at European reactions to sati (widow-burning) and how they changed as colonialism emerged and developed between 1500 and 1860. After completing my Ph.D. I was fortunate enough to secure ESRC post-doctoral and Leverhulme Early Career fellowships, also at Edinburgh, before joining the School of History at the University of Leeds in September 2009.

My research explores the colonial encounter between Britain and India, with a particular focus on social, cultural and gender issues, colonial philanthropy and the so-called 'civilising mission'. I am interested in the processes by which societies seek to understand and represent each other, and the flow of ideas and information around inter-connected sites of empire. I am also interested to redress the male dominated image of colonialism by stressing the importance of women and gender issues in inter-cultural relationships.

While my research to date has spanned the colonial period, including the early twentieth century, the main focus of my work and interests is the century of East India Company rule c. 1757-1857. I am particularly interested in sati (widow-burning), slavery and anti-slavery, indentured labour, child marriage and age of consent, histories of colonial philanthropy and humanitarianism, missionary activity and missionary writing, travel writing, imperial ideologies such as 'civilising mission', the experience of British women in India, and the various ways in which empire in India was represented and discussed in late-eighteenth and nineteenth-century Britain.


  • –present
    Associate Professor in British Colonial History, University of Leeds