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Nelson, Matthew J. (2020) 'Constitutional Migration and the Meaning of Religious Freedom: From Ireland and India to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.' Journal of Asian Studies, 79 (1). pp. 129-154.

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Building on research concerning constitutional migration, I show how constitutional provisions regarding religious freedom (‘subject to public order’) arrived in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, not via colonial British or traditional Islamic sources—both explicitly rejected—but via deliberate borrowing from ‘anti-colonial’ constitutionalists in Ireland and, especially, India. Building on Ernesto Laclau’s (1996) notion of ‘empty signifiers’, however, I also unpack the shifting political circumstances that transformed the meaning of Pakistan’s borrowed constitutional provisions over time. Even as core texts guaranteeing an individual’s right to peaceful religious practice were imported, I trace the political, legal, and conceptual modulations through which certain forms of peaceful religious practice were refashioned as a source of religious provocation and, therein, public disorder. Far from protecting religious freedom, I show how the re-purposing of imported constitutional clauses tied to ‘the politics of public order’ underpinned the legal derogation of an otherwise explicit right.

Item Type: Journal Article
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > Department of Politics & International Studies
ISSN: 00219118
Copyright Statement: © The Association for Asian Studies, Inc. 2019. This is the accepted manuscript of an article published by Cambridge University Press in Journal of Asian Studies, available online:
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 13 May 2018 14:49

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