Syed Haider

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Indian Cinemas; Pakistani television and cinema; transnational cinema in South Asia; Islam, Muslims and screen cultures; gender, sexualities and film practices; minorities and representational practices.

Personal profile

Academic Background

My research at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) focussed on Muslim Modernities on the Hindi Screen. I have built on this work since and published on Muslim representation in Indian cinema through a postcolonial lens; the role and uses of the 'Muslim terrorist' in Hindi cinema to frame and position a nationalist narrative of a globalised/ing India; and the deployment of Sufi aesthetics for the construction of Islam in Bollywood. These publications feed into the broader project that my work addresses: The possibility of cinematic experience to facilitate and engender aesthetic identities. I am interested in the way cinema (as a specific aesthetic practice and when read as an embodied spectorial experience) offsets discursive and confessional identities (which can be divisive), with an embodied and aesthetic sense of self. An aesthetic identity offers a different way to relate to the 'other' (and to notions of alterity itself). As such I am interested in the intersection between the somatic and the semiotic.     


Haider, S., 2022, ‘Othello in Zion’, ISS University of Jaipur - Journal of Arts, 10(2), pp1-19

Haider, S, 2021, ‘Art, Culture and the Humanities in a time of Pandemic’ in, Gupta, M. ed. Peeling the layers of the Pandemic: Rethinking the Human Imagination, Allahabad: Disha International

Haider, S, 2021, ‘Sufi Aesthetics and the making of Islam in Bollywood' in, Petersen, K., Muslims in the Movies: A Global Anthology, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press

Haider, S, 2016, ‘The shooting in Orlando, terrorism or toxic masculinity (or both?), Men and Masculinities, 19(5), pp555-565

Haider, S, 2014, ‘Shooting Muslims: Looking at Muslims in Bollywood through a Postcolonial lens’ in, Nash, G., Hackett, S., Kerr-Koch, K. eds. Postcolonialism and Islam: Theory, Literature, Culture, Society and Film, New York: Routledge

Haider, S, 2013, ‘Entering the fold: India’s entry into a global modernity’ in, Dwivedi, O. P. ed. The Other India: Narratives of Terror, Communalism and Violence, Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing

Haider, S, 2010, ‘Western Modernity, Narratives and the Pornography of Death’, Journal of War and Culture Studies, 3(1), pp98-108

Haider, S, 2010, ‘Firaaq: Remembering Gujarat’, Polyvocia, vol.2, [online] Available at: <>

Conference Papers

2023 'Sufis, Sadhus, and Nuns: The Uses of Religion in Hindi Cinema to Promote Critical Thinking and a Spiritually Informed Humanism' - Film Criticism Conference [Riyadh, Saudi Arabia]

2023 'All your Eid' wrapped into one! Festivities and Joy in Bollywood' - Film Criticism Conference [Jeddah, Saudi Arabia]

2023 'Does cinema have a role in offering Sociology a voice in public discourse? A case study of contemporary independent cinema in India' - British Sociological Association Annual Conference [Manchester, UK]

2022 ‘Encountering the Other in Hindi Cinema: How the Screen Facilitates and Interpolates Audiences into Aesthetic Identities’ – IAFOR Asian Conference on Arts and Humanities [Hawaii]

2019 ‘Looking for the future in the present; Science Fiction and the Aesthetics of Defamiliarising the Familiar’ – IAFOR Asian Conference on Arts and Humanities [Japan]

2018 ‘A hauntological approach to the presence of precarity’ - International Conference on Precarity Populism and Post-Truth Politics [Cordoba]

2016 ‘Living with ambivalence: Slums and modernisation in India’ – ESSE Conference [Galway]

2016 ‘Refracted modernities in Bollywood, the role of Shakespeare in producing Indian (post)postcoloniality’ – Indian Shakespeares on Screen [London]

2016 ‘Coping with Alterity: the Emergence of Aesthetic Identities’ – Humanities, Literature, Cultures, and Arts Conference [Washington]

2014 ‘Posing an aporia’, Homosexuality, Muslims and Narratives of Islam – IAFOR Asian Conference on Arts and Humanities [Japan]

2014 ‘Muslims in Bollywood: the emergence of aesthetic identities’ – Film and Media Conference: Visions of identity [London]

2010 ‘Shooting Muslims: looking at Islam and Muslims in Bollywood through a postcolonial lens’ – University of Sunderland conference on Postcolonialism and Islam [Sunderland]

2010 ‘Entering the fold: how the theme of terrorism facilitates the entry of India into a global modernity’ – ESSE Conference [Turin]

2008 ‘When borders bind identities’ – SOAS Graduate conference [London]


2016 'Ditch the exam board and create your own!' A level students and mimetic learning – Higher Education Academy Conference [Brighton]

Talk/Public Lectures

2023 'Women's Voice and the Question of Women on the Page and Screen' - Keynote Address, LATE conference [BFI, London]

2022 Invited Speaker, ‘Muslims, Hindi Cinema and Aesthetic Identities’, Landscape Surgery (Social, Cultural and Historical Geography), Royal Holloway University, London

2020 Invited Speaker, ‘Sufi Aesthetics and the making of Islam in Indian Cinema’, Indian International School (ISS, University), Jaipur, India.

2020 Invited Speaker, ‘Culture in Quarantine’, Ary Kanya Degree College, Allahabad, India.

2018 Public lecture, ‘Can you be Muslim and Gay?’ at Homerton College, University of Cambridge

2018 Panel participant following a presentation by Matthew Ogston, founder of the Naz and Matt Foundation

2018 Panel participant at ‘LGBT Rights, Apostasy and Blasphemy at Pride Festival’ organised by the Council of Ex Muslims

2015 Panel participant at the ‘Bollywood Fever’ film festival and screening of ‘Bhopal: A prayer for rain’

2014 Presentation to undergraduates and postgraduates about life as a PhD student

2010 Public lecture, ‘Why all the song and dance in Bollywood?’ at the Bloomsbury Film Festival

2010 Chairing a seminar on the meaning of Bollywood at Hendon Library to mark the expansion of Barnet Libraries’ world cinema collection.

Guest Lecturing

2023 'The Business of Bollywood' - MA lecture and seminar at Westminister University

Areas of Expertise

Hindi Cinema

World Cinemas

Islamicate Histories of Indian Cinema

Muslims, Islam and the Media

Muslim and Islamic dicourse on/around LGBTQI related matters and issues of gender and sexuality

Postcolonialism and Film


Before joining UEA, I was Head of Curriculum at the International Study Centre (ISC) at Royal Holloway, University of London. The ISC was part of Study Group and worked in partnership with Royal Holloway for the provision of pathway programmes to various schools and departments within the university. 

I am also a qualified secondary school and sixth form teacher and before moving into tertiary education, I taught Key Stage 3, 4 and 5 students English Language and Literature, Sociology and Media Studies at Vyners School.  

Education/Academic qualification

Institute of Education

Bachelor of Arts, Queen Mary University of London

Master of Arts, Queen Mary University of London

Doctor of Philosophy, SOAS, University of London

University of East London