Department of Politics and International Studies & College of Law, Anthropology, and Politics

Professor Matthew J Nelson

Key information

Department of Politics and International Studies Professor of Politics Centre for Comparative Political Thought Founding Member Centre on Conflict, Rights and Justice Founding Member Centre for the Study of Pakistan Academic Staff Member SOAS South Asia Institute Academic Staff Member
BA (Bowdoin), PhD (Columbia)
Russell Square: College Buildings
Email address


Matthew J. Nelson (Ph.D. Columbia) is a Professor of Politics, currently serving as Head of Department (Department of Politics and International Studies) at SOAS University of London. His research focuses on the comparative and international politics of South Asia with an emphasis on religion and politics, law and politics, comparative political thought, non-elite politics, and democracy. 

Before SOAS, Professor Nelson taught at UC Santa Cruz, Bates College, and Yale University. He has also held academic appointments at the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) in Princeton, NJ, the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars (WWICS) in Washington, DC, the Zentrum für Interdisziplinäre Forschung (ZiF) in Germany, and the University of Melbourne in Australia. At SOAS, he is a member of the SOAS South Asia Institute and a founding member of both the Centre for Comparative Political Thought and the Centre for Conflict, Rights, and Justice. 

Professor Nelson has 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). He has also 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, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO), and many others. He can be reached at 

Research interests

South Asia (Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, India); Islam (law, education); comparative law/constitutionalism; comparative political thought; politics and religion; non-elite politics; democracy.

PhD Supervision

Professor Nelson welcomes PhD applications focused on South Asia (or South Asia in comparative perspective), religion and politics, comparative law, comparative political thought, non-elite politics, and democracy.

Name Title
Salman Rafi Intra-Ethnic Fragmentation and the Politics of De-centralising Constitutional Change in Pakistan: A Comparative Study


Contact Matthew