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School of Social and Political Science: Staff profiles


Delwar Hussain

Delwar Hussain
Dr Delwar Hussain
Lecturer and Chancellors Fellow
George Square Edinburgh UK EH8 9LN
+44 (0)131 651 5071
Research Interests
Ethnography, Gender and Sexuality, Borderlands, Bangladesh, Fences, South Asia, Modernisation, Decolonisation, War on terror, Political Islam, Religious Identity, labour, religion, LGBT, Spain, history, Pakistan, India

Guidance and Feedback Hours

  • Friday 10 - 12

Biographical statement

Delwar Hussain is a social anthropologist specialising in the history, politics and anthropology of South Asia, as well as issues around religion, gender, cities, sexuality and in/tolerance.

He received his PhD from the University of Cambridge in 2011 and joined the University of Edinburgh in 2013. His PhD dissertation was an ethnography of the border between Bangladesh and India and the people who live alongside it. This became the monograph Boundaries Undermined: The Ruins of Progress on Bangladesh-India Border (2013 Hurst and Oxford University Press). As part of the promotion for the book, he spoke on BBC Radio 4’s Thinking Allowed and it was reviewed by the author Pankaj Mishra amongst others.

Delwar’s second book is an ethnography of Dhaka, the mega capital of Bangladesh (due to be published in 2018). Year in, year out, the city finds itself champion of all the global horror lists; the worst city to live in, the most densely populated, the fastest growing, the least developed, the poorest, the most dangerous, most prone to human and environmental catastrophes, the most corrupt. The lists as well as the city’s notoriety grow endless. The book, tentatively titled “Dhaka: A Place in the World” emerges out of spending a year working as a copy-editor on a local newspaper in the lead-up to the 2014 general elections. Through the stories of people he meets, including a child victim of a garments factory  fire; his flatmate; and fellow reporters, it is an attempt at telling the stories of the 14 million people that call the place home. 

Current Research 

Delwar is currently developing a new research project which will find him working for the first time in continental Europe. It explores the contemporary significance of Al Andalus, the 800 year of medieval Islamic Caliphate of Iberia, and asks  how and why the history of Jews, Christians and Muslims living, working and discovering together is silenced from contemporary discourses of Europe, European and indeed Western values. Through ethnographic research, archival research and critiquing of intellectual history he aims to rectify this discrepency.  

Teaching and Supervision

Delwar teaches undergraduate and post-graduate courses in the Anthropology of Ritual and Religion, Qualitative Methods in Ethnographic Fieldwork, the Ethnographies Seminar as well as Sex and Gender in the Contemporary World and Global Politics of Sex and Gender.

At present he is developing a new undergraduate course titled Introduction to Queer Studies. 

Public Anthropology

Along with a commitment to field based, ethnographic academic research, Delwar is committed to engaging with a public outside of academia. He writes for the Guardian newspaper, and in 2013 contributed to the newspaper's Walled World Series. He has also written for Open Democracy, New Internationalist, Himal, Economic and Political Weekly. He frequently advises television and film companies, including the documentary Every Good Marriage Beings With Tears (which won best film in 2007 at the Royal Anthropological Institute Film Festival), and the film adaptation of Brick Lane

Delwar supervises doctoral and postdoctoral scholars and welcomes expressions of interest from anybody with overlapping research interests. 

If you are interested in being supervised by Delwar Hussain, please see the links below for more information:

PhD in Social Anthropology; PhD in South Asian Studies; MSc (R) Social Anthropology; MSc (R) in South Asian Studies