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Personal profile


Claire Alexander

Claire is the Head of the School of Social Sciences and Professor of Sociology at The University of Manchester. She has researched and published on race, ethnicity, youth and migration in the UK for over thirty years. She is a member of the Centre on the Dynamics of Ethnicity (CoDE).

Claire was Editor of Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power between 2011 and 2018. She is on the editorial board of Ethnic and Racial Studies and Whiteness and Education.  

Claire is a Trustee of the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation and Active Communities Network. She is a former Vice-Chair of the Stuart Hall Foundation and the Runnymede Trust. 


Research interests

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

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 a monograph based on 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. 'The Asian Gang Revisited: Changing Muslim Masculinities' will be published by Bloomsbury in 2024. 

Racial Inequalities: My work has been centrally concerned with understanding and challenging racial and ethnic inequalities in Britain. I have worked closely with the Runnymede Trust 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 ESRC funding to explore institutional change in three key areas: Higher Education, Cultural Production and Political Participation. CoDE also received ESRC funding to examine the impact of the Covid19 pandemic on racial and ethnic inequalities. 

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). We have also published a number of articles from this research. 

From 2018-2020, I 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 Dr Sean Carey (Manchester), Dr Sundeep Lidher (Kings College, London) and Dr Suzi Hall (LSE). We have been exploring the impact of the pandemic on the Brick Lane restaurants, and on labour markets in East London through our recent ESRC funded research with CoDE. 

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 (www.banglastories.org)- and formed the basis of two schools ' oral history projects, 'Making Community Histories ' and 'History Lessons ' (www.makinghistories.org.uk). 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 (www.ourmigrationstory.org). This website was awarded the Community Integration Award for research in 2017, and the Royal Historical Society Public History Prize (online resource) in 2018. We also received the Guardian University Award for Research Impact in 2019.  

See also Publications

Recent funded projects (selected)

  • 2021-2023 CoDE 'Covid19 and ethnic inequality: the social, cultural and economic impact of the pandemic on BAME groups in Britain' ESRC
  • 2020-2021: CoDE 'Racial Inequality in a Time of Crisis', ESRC
  • 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


I welcome enquiries from prospective PhD students considering a degree in my area of research  interests.

Current students

  • Manuela Latchoumaya (Manchester) (South Asian activism and brown identities in France)
  • Manish Sen (Manchester) (South Asian gay diaspora identities)
  • Julia Ennoka (Manchester) (adoption and fostering)
  • Zahra Aliyah (Manchester) (safeguarding youth and PREVENT)

Recent students

  • Siobhan O'Neill (Manchester) 'The dynamics of race, racism and whiteness in politics: How do racially minoritised students experience and navigate the whiteness of politics disciplines in British HE?” 
  • Hannah Haycox (Manchester) 'Navigating the Labyrinth: How practitioners and Syrian families experience the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme in comparative policy contexts'
  • Karis Campion (Manchester) ‘Making Mixed Race: Time, Place and Identities in Birmingham’
  • Ajmal Hussain (Manchester) ‘Muslims in the Metropolis: an ethnographic study of Muslim-making in a 21st Century British City'
  • Sebastian Juhnke (Manchester) '"Locating the Creative Class: Diversity and Urban Change in London and Berlin”

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

External positions

Trustee, Active Communities Network

31 May 202030 Apr 2025

Trustee, Esmee Fairbairn Foundation

1 Jan 202031 Dec 2031

Trustee/Vice-Chair, Stuart Hall Foundation

1 Feb 201831 Jul 2023


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