Themes in the History of Pakistan

Themes in the History of Pakistan

Convenor: Professor Faisal Devji

Founded out of the partition of British India in 1947, Pakistan was unlike its giant neighbour in constituting an entirely new state with no prior history of its own. Audaciously created in two regional pieces separated by a thousand miles of Indian territory, Pakistan represented a novel form of polity in other ways as well, an originality only compounded when it became the world’s first Islamic Republic in 1973, after a civil war that led to the independence of its eastern wing. While it is often defined by two conventional patterns of conflict, that between civilian and military rule on the one hand, and between ethnic and religious nationalism on the other, Pakistan’s unprecedented character manifests itself in many different directions. This course explores some of the ways in which the country’s self-professed novelty has been elaborated in religious, literary, political and other terms, from its founding at the start of the Cold War to its attempts at finding a new national identity in the period that has followed its end.

The aim of this course is to have students understand and critically engage with the making of ideological states in some of their great variety during the Cold War, as well as studying the continuing problem posed by the development of a national culture. Pakistan serves as a forerunner and laboratory for the elaboration of new forms of Islamic identity and governance, which we will also explore in conceptual and ethnographic terms.


Take a look at…

Faisal Devji. 2013 Muslim Zion: Pakistan as a Political Idea.  London: Hurst and Company.

Christophe Jaffrelot.  2015. The Pakistan Paradox: Instability and Resilience.  London: Hurst.

Naveeda Khan.  2012.  Muslim Becoming: Aspiration and Skepticism in Pakistan.   Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press.


The image above shows: Aftaab-e-Taaza: An illustration of the verses of Iqbal by the artist Sadequain

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