SOAS Research Online

A Free Database of the Latest Research by SOAS Academics and PhD Students

[skip to content]

Nelson, Matthew J. (2011) 'Embracing the Ummah: Student Politics beyond State Power in Pakistan.' Modern Asian Studies, 45 (3). pp. 565-596.

Full text not available from this repository.


Studies of student politics in Pakistan often focus on the competition between ‘secular’ and ‘religious’ student groups—for example, the leftward-leaning National Students Federation, regional parties with a broadly secular orientation like the Pakhtun Students Federation, the Islami Jamiat-e-Tuleba (Islamic Students Association), and sectarian groups like the (Shi'a) Imamia Students Organization. This paper describes the emergence of an increasingly violent stalemate between and amongst these groups since the 1960s. It then argues that for a growing number of students this stalemate produced a certain disenchantment with exclusionary efforts to control the ‘state-based Muslim nationalism’ that lay behind the formation of Pakistan itself. Seeking alternatives, these disenchanted students developed an interest in non-state-based forms of Muslim solidarity—forms that rejected the constraints of territorial Muslim nationalism in favour of transnational movements focused on the revitalization of Muslim solidarity on a truly global scale—movements like the (Deobandi) Tablighi Jama'at and the (Barelwi) Da'wat-e-Islami. Tracing this development, this paper takes up one application of Talal Asad's argument that alternative expressions of religion (and religious solidarity) are ‘produced’ by specific political circumstances. It also examines this formulation in the light of other theories that take an interest in the effects—indeed the potentially ‘democratizing’ effects—of protracted political stalemates.

Item Type: Journal Article
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > Department of Politics & International Studies
Legacy Departments > Faculty of Law and Social Sciences > Department of Politics and International Studies
ISSN: 0026749X
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 10 May 2011 11:03

Altmetric Data


Download activity - last 12 monthsShow export options
Downloads since deposit
6 month trend
6 month trend
Accesses by country - last 12 monthsShow export options
Accesses by referrer - last 12 monthsShow export options

Repository staff only

Edit Item Edit Item