Book Announcement: Constructing Pakistan: Foundational Texts and the Rise of Muslim National Identity, 1857-1947

Masood Ashraf Raja, my friend and co-editor of The Postnational Fantasy (tentative title) with me and Swaralipi Nandi, has just had his book Constructing Pakistan: Foundational Texts and the Rise of Muslim National Identity, 1857-1947 published by Oxford University Press. The full details from here are included below. Also, check out Raja’s writings on his new blog, Postcolonialities: Postcolonial Theory and Critical Pedagogy, and don’t forget to read his journal (that I copyedit) Pakistaniaat.

Book Description

Constructing Pakistan addresses the previously neglected aspect of postcolonial and historical engagement with the creation and construction of Indian Muslim national identity before the partition of India in 1947. Masood Ashraf Raja’s main assertion, challenging the conventional and postcolonial appraisals of the Indian national history, is that the Indian Muslim particular identity and Muslim exceptionalism preceded the rise of Congress or Gandhian nationalism. Using major theories of nationalism-including works of Benedict Anderson, Anthony D. Smith, John Breuilly, Partha Chatterjee and others-and analysis of literary, political, and religious texts produced by Indian Muslims, Constructing Pakistan traces the varied Muslim responses to the post 1857 British ascendancy. This study provides a multilayered discussion of Indian Muslim nationalism from the rise of post 1857 Muslim exceptionalism to the beginnings of a more focused struggle for a nation-sate in the 1940s.

In this dual act of retrieval and intervention, a varied mixture of literary, political, and religious texts are employed to suggest that if the Muslim textual production of this time period is read within the realm of politics and not just within the arena of culture, then the rise of Indian Muslim nationalism can be clearly traced within these texts and through their affective value for the Indian Muslims.

Raja states that no such work exits either in the postcolonial field or in the field of area studies that combines close readings of the texts, their reception, and the politics of identity formation specifically related to the rise of Indian Muslim nationalism. The author’s main argument hinges on two important assumptions: 1) After the rebellion it becomes extremely important for the Muslim elite to force the dominant British regime into a hegemonic view of the Muslims, and 2) this forces the Muslim elite to develop a language of politics that must always invoke the people in order to enter the British system of privileges and dispensations. Consequently, the rise of early Muslim exceptionalism and its eventual specific nationalistic unfolding, of which Pakistan was one outcome, can then be read as political acts that long preceded the Indian national party politics. The reason most Indian and European historians cannot trace a pronounced Muslim sense of separate identity before the 1940s is because they trace this identity either in the form of resistance or in the shape of party politics. The early loyalism of the Muslim elite, in such strategy, remains unexplained, as it does not fit the resistance model. Constructing Pakistan attempts to re-read this loyalism as a sophisticated form of resistance that, in the end, makes the Muslim question central to the British politics of post-rebellion era.

Publication Details

  • Hardcover: 182 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press,  2010
  • ISBN-10: 0195478118
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195478112

To Order:

In Pakistan: Oxford Website.

Amazon. com Link

CFP: Place and Space in Children’s Literature

Farah Mendlesohn sent out the following CFP for the “Place and Space in Children’s Literature” conference at the University of Oxford.  If you’re a children’s literature scholar, you might want to check this out.  Read on for the details.

Place and Space in Children’s Literature

27-28 March 2009, University of Oxford

Keble College, Oxford

Keynote speech by Philip Pullman

The University of Oxford Children’s Literature Reading Group invites papers on the themes of place and space in children’s literature for its conference to be held at Keble College, Oxford. The keynote speech, opening reception, and delegates’ dinner on the evening of Friday 27 March will be followed by a day of panels and discussions on Saturday 28 March, 2009.

Space is fundamental in any exercise of power

–Michel Foucault

From the Prince Edward Island of Anne of Green Gables to Gossip Girl‘s glamorous Upper East Side to the multiple Oxfords in His Dark Materials, the locales of children’s and young adult literature often aid in defining the child’s relationship to his or her world and delineating the terms and possibilities of youth. More abstract concepts of proximity, size, positioning, and enclosure likewise contribute to the construction of the child and the world in which s/he exists. This conference aims to address these issues through a day of papers by established and rising academics in the field of children’s literature studies. As such, the Oxford Children’s Literature Reading Group solicits a wide range of submissions that explore how metaphorical and physical space create landscapes of power, knowledge, and identity in texts aimed at youth audiences.

Appropriate to its theme, this conference will be held in Oxford, a location that has special importance for children’s literature as the home and/or university of such notable children’s authors as Lewis Carroll, Kenneth Grahame, C.S. Lewis, Diana Wynne Jones, Richard Adams, Susan Cooper, Alan Garner, and Kevin Crossley-Holland, among many others. It features as the setting in works by Penelope Lively, Philip Pullman, Matthew Skelton and more, and has served as a primary shooting location for the film adaptations of the Harry Potter novels and The Golden Compass.

Please email your 250-word abstract with your name and institutional affiliation to the University of Oxford Children’s Literature Reading Group at oxchildrenslit[at]gmail[dot]com by December 1, 2008.