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Mobeen Hussain

Mobeen Hussain

PhD Candidate, World History

Mobeen Hussain is available for consultancy.

Newnham College
University of Cambridge


I am a PhD candidate funded by a Newnham College and Vice-Chancellor Studentship. I completed my BA in English and History and MA in Contemporary History and International Politics at the University of York. My Masters was funded by the Hampson Fund, University of York. I have previously worked in library services and research support at the University of Leeds.

Previous research projects include changing courtesan culture in nineteenth century India, which took an interdisciplinary textual approach in deconstructing the representations of the tawaif of Lucknow in historical events and in fiction, and a project on identity politics of African-Caribbean women in post-war Britain through navigations of beauty (1948-1990). This project traced how African-Caribbean women conformed, rejected and reworked European beauty ideals and practices as part of wider British Black struggles, and in creating Black British identities and spaces.

Research Interests

Research interests include empire, colonial and postcolonial identities and histories of women of colour.

My PhD project examines the intersections of racial politics, gender and beauty in late colonial and immediate post-independence India (c.1900-1950). It historicises contemporary studies of colourism and skin-lightening by discussing how colonial ideas about race, identity and beauty consumption informed and affected attitudes that have endured into the post-colonial period. The project examines how imperial constructions of race, femininity, and aesthetics worked in dialogue with ideas about caste and indigenous norms of femininity and beauty to influence the quotidian practices of Indian women. In doing so, my thesis also considers how such practices were utilised to secure forms of social power within local and national textual and material cultures. 

Research Supervision

I am supervised by Dr. Leigh Denault.


  • Historical Argument and Practice.
  • Paper 21 (Empires and World History from the fifteenth century to First World War).
  • Paper 23 (World History from 1914 to the present day).

Other Professional Activities

Convenor of the Newnham History Forum  

Convenor of the Histories of Race workshop

Co-editor, writer and former editor-in-chief for Doing History in Public 

Convenor of the World History Workshop (2018-2019) 



  • Economic, Social History
  • Global History
  • Histories of Colonialism
  • International History
  • Imperial History

Key Publications

Book Chapters:

Hussain, Mobeen. “Sunlight on a Broken Column and The Heart Divided as autobiographically-inspired realist texts: navigating gendered socio-political identities in genre fiction.” Haris Qadeer and Yasser Arafath (Eds), Sultana's Sisters: Gender, Genre, and Histories in South Asian Muslim Women's Fiction, Routledge, (2020). Accepted and Forthcoming.

Book Reviews:

Hussain, Mobeen. “Elusive lives: gender, autobiography, and the self in Muslim South Asia.” Women's History Review. (2019). DOI: 10.1080/09612025.2019.1699686.

Hussain, Mobeen. "Dancing with the Nation: Courtesans in Bombay Cinema." Film & History. 49, no. 1 (2019): 70-71.

Mobeen Hussain “The Indian ladies’ magazine, 1901–1938: from Raj to Swaraj.” Women's History Review. (2019): 28:1, 178-180, DOI: 10.1080/09612025.2018.1539633.