Prof Claire Alexander

Professor of Sociology

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Research interests

Keywords: race, ethnicity, masculinity and youth identity in Britain; racial inequalities; Muslim identities; South Asian migration and diaspora; ethnography and oral history.

Key themes

Race/ethnicity and youth identities; ethnography: I have been researching Black and Asian youth identities in Britain for over 25 years, from an ethnographic perspective. I recently completed an ESRC funded project 'Re-Visiting the Asian Gang ', in which I re-interviewed the original participants of my 'Asian Gang' (2000) research, 15 years after the original ethnography.

Racial Inequalities: My work has been centrally concerned with understanding and challenging racial and ethnic inequalities in Britain. I have worked closely with Runnymede on inequalities in education and Higher Education, and in relation to youth and Muslim identities. In 2018, with colleagues at the Centre on Dynamics of Ethnicity, we received 3 years ESRC funding to explore institutional change in three key areas: Higher Education, Cultural Production and Political Participation. Building on my earlier work with Runnymede, myself and Ken Clark (Economics) are leading on the work package on Higher Education. 

Muslim identities: my recent 'Revisiting the Asian gang ' project explored the changing role of religion amongst young South Asian Muslims in Britain. I have also worked with Runnymede and other academics on the emergence of Muslim identities and activism, as for example in The New Muslims collection and the Muslim Multicultures film. I also contributed to Runnymede's 2017 collection 'Islamophobia: Still a Challenge for us all'. 

South Asian migration and diaspora: between 2006 and 2009 I undertook research on issues of Bengali Muslim migration, diaspora and identity with a colleague at Cambridge University, Professor Joya Chatterji, titled 'The Bengal Diaspora '. This was published in 2016 as 'The Bengal Diaspora: Rethinking Muslim Migration' (Routledge 2016). We have also published a number of articles from this research.

I have also recently received 2 year AHRC funding for a follow-on to this project, which is an ethnographic exploration of the 'Indian' restaurant trade in Brick Lane, East London. This project is a collaboration with Professor Joya Chatterji (Cambridge) and Dr Suzi Hall (LSE) 

Oral history: The Bengal diaspora research was a three year project, funded by the AHRC, which explored migration and settlement within and from the Indian state of Bengal in the period after Partition. The project was focused on migrants in India, Bangladesh and Britain and used oral histories to explore diaspora 'from below '.

Project findings were developed, in collaboration with the Runnymede Trust, into a website for schoolchildren – Banglastories ( and formed the basis of two schools ' oral history projects, 'Making Community Histories ' and 'History Lessons ' ( Most recently, we collaborated on a third AHRC project, which worked with over 70 historians, museums and archives to produce a website supporting the teaching of migration in schools ( This website was awarded the Community Integration Award for research in 2017, and the Royal Historical Society Public History Prize (online resource) in 2018. 

See also Publications

Recent funded projects (selected)

  • 2018-2020: 'Beyond Banglatown', AHRC. 
  • 2018-2021: Centre on Dynamics of Ethnicity, Understanding the Dynamics of Ethnic Identity and Inequality, ESRC
  • 2016: History Matters: creating resources for a diverse history curriculum, AHRC
  • 2013-2015: Runnymede Academic Fora, AHRC Research Network
  • 2013-14: History Lessons: teaching community, heritage and diversity in the National History Curriculum (with Joya Chatterji), AHRC
  • 2013-2014: Researching Racial Inequality, Ending Racism (with James Nazroo), ESRC Impact Acceleration Account
  • 2011-2013: Revisiting the Asian Gang (ESRC)
  • 2011-2012; Banglastories: telling community histories about migration and belonging (with Joya Chatterji) (AHRC)
  • 2009: Banglastories website, LSE Heif4 Funding
  • 2006-2009 The Bengal Diaspora (with Joya Chatterji), Diasporas, Migration and Identities Programme AHRC


Research and projects