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Claire Chambers is a Senior Lecturer in Global Literature, Convenor of the MA in Global Literature and Culture, and Graduate Chair for the Department of English and Related Literature at the University of York.
Before coming to York in 2012, she worked for eight years in the School of Cultural Studies at Leeds Beckett University. She completed her undergraduate degree at Newcastle University and did her MA and PhD at the University of Leeds.
Claire is the author of Making Sense of Contemporary British Muslim Novels (2019), Rivers of Ink: Selected Essays (2017), Britain Through Muslim Eyes: Literary Representations, 1780−1989 (2015), and British Muslim Fictions: Interviews with Contemporary Writers (2011), as well as editor (with Caroline Herbert) of Imagining Muslims in South Asia and the Diaspora: Secularism, Religion, Representations (2015).
Not only is she known for her writing on literary representations of Muslims in Britain and South Asia, but also for her work on the Bengali writer Amitav Ghosh. She has published widely in such journals as Postcolonial Text, Contemporary Women’s Writing, and the Journal of Postcolonial Writing. Claire is also Editor (with Rachael Gilmour) of the Journal of Commonwealth Literature. Her research has been supported by grants from HEFCE, the AHRC, ESRC (Impact Acceleration Award), British Academy, and the Leverhulme Trust.
Her interest in the literature of the Indian subcontinent and ‘the Muslim world’ was sparked by the year she spent prior to university teaching in Peshawar, Pakistan. It continues to be informed by return visits to the region, and by public engagement and schools work with diasporic communities.
Claire is an expert in contemporary South Asian literature and literary representations of British Muslims. Her two monographs, Britain Through Muslim Eyes and Making Sense of Contemporary British Muslim Novels, trace the development of prose writing by and about Muslims in Britain from the eighteenth century to the present day.
The first volume in Claire’s series of books, British Muslim Fictions, is now in its second edition, and has received many positive reviews, including in the Times Literary Supplement and the Pakistani national newspapers The Friday Times and Dawn.
Another book, co-edited with Caroline Herbert and entitled Imagining Muslims in South Asia and the Diaspora: Secularism, Religion, Representations, was published by Routledge in 2015.
Claire also compiled a collection of her essays for the Dawn newspaper and other outlets, entitled Rivers of Ink, which was published by Oxford University Press in 2017.
Claire has wide experience of supervising undergraduates and postgraduates writing dissertations on South Asian, postcolonial, and British migrant literatures. She welcomes research students interested in many areas of contemporary literature, especially topics related to fiction from South Asia and its diaspora, ‘the Muslim world’, and multicultural Britain.
For almost a decade Claire has been the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Commonwealth Literature, the leading critical and bibliographic forum in the field of Commonwealth and postcolonial literatures. She is on many advisory boards including those of Crossings: Journal of Migration and Culture, NUML: Journal of Critical Inquiry, Islamabad, and the Rodopi book series Postcolonial Lives.
She is currently a Co-Investigator to Principal Investigator Siobhan Lambert-Hurley twice over: for the GCRF QR project ‘Advancing Female Literacy and Empowerment in Pakistan and India through Life Writing’ and the AHRC award ‘Forgotten Food: Culinary Memory, Local Heritage and Lost Agricultural Varieties in India’.
In 2016-2019, Claire was Co-Investigator on the AHRC-funded project, Storying Relationships (Principal Investigator: Richard Phillips). Previously, she was a member of the AHRC’s Peer Review College, Vice Chair of the Postcolonial Studies Association, and worked as a subject editor for the ‘Indian Subcontinent and Sri Lanka’ section of The Year’s Work in English Studies. She has also been awarded an ESRC Impact Acceleration Award for her project Leeds Meets Shakespeare, in partnership with Sarah Olive (Education), Leeds City Council Children’s Services, Artforms, Leeds Playhouse, and Globe Education.
In addition to being one of Times Higher Education’s scholar-reviewers and a blogger on culture for the Huffington Post, she writes book reviews for such journals as Wasafiri, Contemporary South Asia, Feminist Theory, and Moving Worlds. She is a literary columnist for Dawn and 3 Quarks Daily.
She was a Project Partner in Muslims, Trust and Cultural Dialogue, an international multidisciplinary network of scholars, practitioners and stakeholders, which sought to explore questions of trust in the relationship between Muslim diaspora populations in the West and the societies around them.
She is one of six editors (with Rehana Ahmed, Anshuman A. Mondal, Stephen Morton, Peter Morey, and Amina Yaqin) for the Manchester University Press series Multicultural Textualities. With Shital Pravinchandra, she edits another series for Routledge, entitled Global Literature: Twenty-First Century Perspectives. Finally, with Kaiser Haq she will edit the six-volume Cultural History of South Asian Writing for Bloomsbury Academic.
Claire has given interviews for the Radio 4 documentary First There Was the Word, British Muslim TV, Radio Asian Fever, BBC Radio Manchester, the BBC’s The One Show, and advised about multicultural Shakespeare for an episode of BBC One’s The Big Questions. She regularly participates in literature festivals such as those at Ilkley, Karachi, Lahore, and Bradford. Finally, Claire has recently become a Fellow of the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce).