Pakistan as a Political Idea – University of Copenhagen

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Pakistan as a Political Idea

Faisal Devji, Oxford University

Date 17th Sep 2012
Time: 11.15-12.15

Founded less than a decade after it was first proposed as an idea, Pakistan might well possess the most successful national history of any of the world’s states. And yet it is by the same token a country where nationalism has never been dominant as a political ideology. But while it has become a commonplace to see Pakistan as a “failed” state and work out when it started coming apart, I want to argue that the country has never been a nation state in any conventional sense. Instead I will demonstrate that Pakistan belongs to another political logic, one that is critical of nationalism and oriented in an internationalist direction. Like Zionism, which has always been an international ideology founded and fostered outside the country that would come to fulfil it, and that named an imaginary and constantly shifting geography as much as an actual territory, Muslim nationalism, too, has always had an ambiguous and internationally mediated relationship with the territory that eventually became Pakistan
Faisal Devji is University Reader in South Asian History. He is the author of three books, The Impossible Indian: Gandhi and the Temptation of Vioelnce (2012), The Terrorist in Search of Humanity: Militant Islam and Global Politics (2009), Landscapes of the Jihad: Militancy, Morality, Modernity (2005), and is currently writing a book on the emergence of Muslim politics and the founding of Pakistan.