Dr Matthew J Nelson
BA (Bowdoin), PhD (Columbia)
Reader in Politics
- Dr Matthew J Nelson
- Email address:
- +44 (0)20 7898 4742
- SOAS, University of London
Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG
- Russell Square: College Buildings
- Office No:
- Office Hours:
- Thurs. 3.30-5.30
Matthew Nelson (PhD Columbia) is a Reader in Politics at SOAS. His research focuses on the comparative and international politics of South Asia, with an emphasis on non-elite politics, comparative political thought, the politics of Islamic institutions, and democracy. Before coming to SOAS Dr Nelson taught at UC Santa Cruz, Bates College, and Yale University.
Dr Nelson has spent several years conducting archival, ethnographic, and survey-based research in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India. His first book was titled In the Shadow of Shari‘ah: Islam, Islamic Law, and Democracy in Pakistan (Columbia, 2011); his current research focuses on comparative constitutional politics and the politics of sectarian and doctrinal diversity in Islamic law and education.
Dr Nelson is a founding member of the Centre for Comparative Political Thought and the Centre for the International Politics of Conflict, Rights, and Justice at SOAS. In 2009-2010 Dr Nelson was the Wolfensohn Family Member at the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) in Princeton; in 2011 he was a Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (WWICS) in Washington, D.C.; in 2014-15 he was a Fellow at the Zentrum für Interdisziplinäre Forschung (ZiF) in Bielefeld (Germany).
Dr Nelson has also served as an elected board member for the American Institute of Pakistan Studies (AIPS), the South Asia Council of the Association for Asian Studies (AAS), and the Religion and Politics Section of the American Political Science Association (APSA).
Dr Nelson has completed several consultancies for The Brookings Institution, the National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR), The Asia Foundation, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the British Foreign Office (FCO), the British Department for International Development (DFID), and others.
PhD Students supervised
- Najia Mukhtar, Discourses of resistance? Examining spaces of religious tolerance in contemporary Pakistani society.
- Sameen Ali, Politicisation of the Bureaucracy and Political Access in Pakistan (working title)
Other students supervised:
- Tobias Berger 'Global Norms and Local Courts: Translating the Rule of Law in Rural Bangladesh' (Professor Thomas Risse, Free University, Berlin) 2014
- Tahrat Shahid (Professor Elizabeth Frazer, Oxford) 2015
- Maha Aziz (Professor John Sidel, LSE) 2012
- Mahvish Shami (Dr. Jean-Paul Faguet, LSE) 2011
South Asia (Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and India); Islamic institutions (law, education); comparative political thought; comparative constitutionalism; politics and religion (Political Islam), non-elite politics; democracy.
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- Special Study Programmes
- Short Term Consultancy
- South Asia
Nelson, Matthew J. (2011) In the Shadow of Shari‘ah: Islam, Islamic Law, and Democracy in Pakistan. New York: Columbia University Press.
Nelson, Matthew J. (2016) 'Islamist Parties and Their Proxies: Working With - and Against - the State.' In: Hamid, S. and McCants, W. , (eds.), Rethinking Political Islam. New York: Oxford University Press. (Forthcoming)
Nelson, Matthew J. (2016) 'Islamic Law in an Islamic State: What Role for Parliament?' In: Bali, A. and Lerner, H., (eds.), Constitution-Writing, Religion and Democracy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (Forthcoming)
Nelson, Matthew J. (2014) 'Ilm and the Individual: Islamic Education and the Production of Political Ideas in Pakistan.' In: Jeffrey, R. and Sen, R., (eds.), Being Muslim in South Asia: Diversity and Daily Life. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Nelson, Matthew J. (2012) 'Inheritance Unbound: The Politics of Personal Law Reform in Pakistan and India.' In: Khilnani, S. and Raghavan, V. and Thiravengadam, A., (eds.), Comparative Constitutional Traditions in South Asia. Delhi: Oxford University Press, pp. 219-246.
Nelson, Matthew J. (2010) 'Dealing with Difference: Religious Education and the Challenge of Democracy in Pakistan.' In: Merry, M.S. and Milligan, J.A., (eds.), Citizenship, Education, and Identity in Muslim Communities. London: Palgrave, pp. 103-123.
Nelson, Matthew J. (2010) 'Muslims, Markets, and the Meaning of "A Good Education" in Pakistan.' In: Abbas, Tahir, (ed.), Islam and Education. Vol. 2. London: Routledge.
Nelson, Matthew J. 'Pakistan.' In: Countries at the Crossroads. New York: Freedom House. (Forthcoming)
Nelson, Matthew J. 'Pakistan 2006-2011.' In: Countries at the Crossroads. New York: Freedom House, pp. 463-486.
Schonthal, B. and Moustafa, T and Nelson, Matthew J. and Shankar, S. (2015) 'Is the Rule of Law an Antidote for Religious Tension? The Promise and Peril of Judicializing Religious Freedom.' American Behavioral Scientist .
Nelson, Matthew J. (2014) 'Social, Religious, and Political Change in Pakistan: A Grassroots Perspective.' Seminar, 664 . pp. 20-23.
Milam, William B. and Nelson, Matthew J. (2013) 'Pakistan's Populist Foreign Policy.' Survival: Global politics and strategy, 55 (1). pp. 121-134.
Nelson, Matthew J. (2011) '“Faith” and “Development” in Secular and Religious Schools.' Comparative Education Review, 55 (1). 115-117, 129.
Nelson, Matthew J. (2011) 'Embracing the Ummah: Student Politics beyond State Power in Pakistan.' Modern Asian Studies, 45 (3). pp. 565-596.
Nelson, Matthew J. (2010) 'Pakistan in 2009: Tackling the Taliban?' Asian Survey, 50 (1). pp. 112-126.
Nelson, Matthew J. (2010) 'Persistent Legal Pluralism and the Challenge of Universal Human Rights.' Oxford Journal of Human Rights Practice, 2 (3). pp. 401-407.
Nelson, Matthew J. (2009) 'Pakistan in 2008: Moving Beyond Musharraf.' Asian Survey, 49 (1). pp. 16-27.
Nelson, Matthew J. (2009) 'Dealing with Difference: Religious Education and the Challenge of Democracy in Pakistan.' Modern Asian Studies, 43 (2). pp. 591-618.
Nelson, Matthew J. (2008) 'Religious Education in Non-Religious Schools: A Comparative Study of Pakistan and Bangladesh.' Journal of Commonwealth and Comparative Politics, 46 (3). pp. 271-295.
Nelson, Matthew (2007) 'Who Speaks for Islam?: 'Authenticity' and the Interpretation of Islamic Law in America's War on Terror.' Australian Journal of International Affairs, 61 (2). pp. 247-66.
Nelson, Matthew (2006) 'Muslims, Markets, and the Meaning of 'A Good Education' in Pakistan.' Asian Survey, 46 (5). pp. 699-720.
Nelson, Matthew J. (2006) 'Madrasas and the Modern State.' RUSI Newsbrief, 26 (7). pp. 74-76.
Nelson, Matthew (2016) Informal Agencies of Influence: The Interdependence of Social, Religious, and Political Trends in Pakistan. In: Mapping Pakistan’s Internal Dynamics. Seattle: National Bureau of Asian Research.
Nelson, Matthew J. (2015) Islamist politics in South Asia after the Arab Spring: Parties and their proxies working with—and against—the state. Washington D.C.: The Brookings Institute; Rethinking Political Islam Series.
Nelson, Matthew J. (2015) Islamic Law in an Islamic Republic: What Role for Parliament? [Policy Brief]. Oxford: The Foundation for Law, Justice and Society; University of Oxford.
Nelson, Matthew J. (2009) Campus Conflict, Party Politics, and the Secular State in Bangladesh. Foreign and Commonwealth Office, British High Commission (Dhaka).
Nelson, Matthew J. (2009) Religion, Politics, and the Modern University in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Seattle: National Bureau of Asian Research.
Nelson, Matthew J. (2011) 'Review of: Hilary Synnott, Transforming Pakistan: Ways Out of Instability (London: Routledge and the International Institute of Strategic Studies [IISS], 2009), 198 pp.' South Asia Research, 31 (2). pp. 183-185.
Nelson, Matthew J. (2011) 'Review of Irfan Ahmad, 'Islam and Democracy in India: The Transformation of Jamaat-e-Islami'.' American Ethnologist, 38 (2).
Nelson, Matthew J. (2010) 'Persistent Legal Pluralism and the Challenge of Universal Human Rights. Review of: When Legal Worlds Overlap: Human Rights, State and Non-State Law. Geneva: International Council on Human Rights Policy, 2009. xi + 177pp.' Journal of Human Rights Practice, 2 (3). pp. 401-407.
Nelson, Matthew J. (2009) 'Review of David Loyn, 'Butcher and Bolt: two hundred years of foreign engagement in Afghanistan'.' The Middle East in London, 6 (1).
Nelson, Matthew J. (2008) 'Review of Vazira Fazila-Yaqoobali Zamindar, 'The Long Partition and the Making of Modern South Asia: Refugees, Boundaries, Histories'.' Asian Affairs, 39 (2).
Nelson, Matthew J. (2008) 'Review of Srirupa Roy, 'Beyond Belief: India and the Politics of Postcolonial Nationalism'.' Asian Affairs, 39 (2).
Nelson, Matthew J. (2007) 'Review of Tariq Rahman, 'Denizens of Alien Worlds: A Study of Education, Inequality, and Polarization in Pakistan'.' South Asia Research, 27 (1).
Nelson, Matthew J. (2006) 'Review of Jan-Peter Hartung and Helmut Reifeld, 'Islamic Education, Diversity, and National Identity: Dini Madaris in India Post-9/11'.' South Asia Research, 26 (3).