SOAS University of London

South Asia Department

Imagining Pakistan: culture, politics, gender (MA)

Module Code:
Unit value:
Taught in:
Full Year

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

At the end of the course, a student should be able to demonstrate…

  1. Critical engagement with interdisciplinary approaches to Pakistan Studies.
  2. Familiarity with contemporary critical and historical debates on Pakistan, especially postcolonial perspectives.
  3. A critical understanding of the concepts of culture and gender with reference to specific Pakistani contexts.
  4. Advanced oral and written skills for the communication of relevant ideas, concepts and arguments.
  5. An ability to undertake independent research and pursue several pathways in Pakistan Studies.


Total of 22 weeks teaching with 1.5 hours classroom contact per week.

Scope and syllabus

The course will consider the history, politics and culture of Pakistan, including the role of Islam and gender in the state. The course will begin with a contextualisation of the historic creation of Pakistan. The core of the course will concentrate on developments since the founding of Pakistan in 1947: history, politics, relations between Islam, gender and the state, the writings of an international body of scholars on culture in Pakistan, its manifestations through the media, literature and film. It is an ideal core course for the MA in the Study of Contemporary Pakistan as it provides students with the skills and knowledge to study Pakistan beyond the stereotypes of current public understandings. In the MA South Asian Area Studies, MA Languages and Cultures of South Asia and MA Postcolonial Studies it provides a much needed regional option on Pakistan.

Method of assessment

One three-hour written examination paper taken in May/June (50%); one essay of 3,500 words to be submitted on day 5, week 1, term 2 (20%); one essay of 3,500 to be submitted on day 5, week 1, term 3 (20%); one 15-minute presentation on an assigned topic (10%).

Suggested reading

  • Ahmad, Aziz. Islamic modernism in India and Pakistan, 1857-1964 (Oxford: OUP, 1969).
  • Ahmad, Rukhsana, trans. We sinful women: contemporary Urdu feminist poetry (London: Women’s Press, 1991).
  • Ahmed, Akbar S. Pakistan: the social sciences’ perspective (Karachi: Oxford UP, 1990).
  • Ali, S. Mahmoud. The fearful state: power, people and internal war in South Asia (London: Zed Books, 1993).
  • Allen, Douglas, ed. Religion and political conflict in South Asia: India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka (London: Greenwood Press, 1992).
  • Asghar Khan, Muhammad. Islam, politics and the state: the Pakistan experience (London: Zed Books, 1985).
  • Bahadur, Kalim. The Jamaat-i Islami of Pakistan: political thought and political action (New Delhi: Chetana, 1977).
  • Banuazizi, Ali and Myron Weiner, eds. The state, religion and ethnic politics: Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan (Syracuse: Syracuse UP, 1986).
  • Bennett Jones, Owen. Pakistan: eye of the storm (Yale: Nota Bene, 2002).
  • Bhutto, Benazir. Daughter of the east (London: Hamilton, 1988).
  • Brunner, Rainer and Werner Ende, eds., The twelver Shia in modern times: religious culture and political history (Leiden: Brill, 2001).
  • Buehler, Arthur F. Sufi heirs of the Prophet: the Indian Naqshbandiyya and the rise of the mediating sheikh (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1998).
  • Burki, S.J. Pakistan: fifty years of nationhood (Boulder: Westview Press, 1999).
  • Burki, Shahid Javed. Pakistan under Bhutto, 1971-1977 (London: Macmillan, 1988).
  • Burki, Shahid Javed. Pakistan: fifty years of nationhood (Oxford: Westview Press, 1999).
  • Cloughley, Brian, ed. A history of the Pakistan army: wars and insurrections (Karachi: Oxford UP, 2001).
  • Coakley, John, ed. The territorial management of ethnic conflict (London: Frank Cass, 2003).
  • Cohen, Stephen P. The Pakistan army (Karachi: Oxford UP, 1992).
  • Cohen, Stephen. The idea of Pakistan (Washington: Brookings Institute, 2004).
  • Coll, Steve. Ghost wars: the secret history of the CIA, Afghanistan and Bin Laden, from the Soviet invasion to September 10, 2001 (New York: The Penguin Press, 2004).
  • Donnan, Hastings and Werbner, Pnina. eds. Economy and culture in Pakistan: migrants and cities in a Muslim society (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1991).
  • Durrani, Tehmina. My feudal lord (Lahore: the author, 1991).
  • Eaton, Richard M. The rise of Islam and the Bengal frontier (New Delhi: OUP, 2000).
  • Ernst, Carl W. and Bruce Lawrence. Sufi martyrs of love: the Chishti order in South Asia and beyond (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002).
  • Faiz, Faiz Ahmad. The rebel’s silhouette. Trans. Agha Shahid Ali (New Delhi: Oxford UP, 1992).
  • Faiz, Faiz Ahmad. The true subjects: selected poems of Faiz Ahmad Faiz. Trans. Naomi Lazard (Princeton: Princeton UP, 1988).
  • Flemming, Leslie A. Another lonely voice: the Urdu short stories of Saadat Hasan Manto. With stories trans. by Tahira Naqvi (Lahore: Vanguard Books, 1985).
  • Haqqani, Husain. Pakistan: between mosque and military (Washington: Carnegie Endowment, 2005).
  • Hardy, Peter. Muslims of British India (New Delhi: Foundation Books, 2004).
  • Iqbal, Sir Muhammad. Iqbal: a selection of the Urdu verse. Trans. David J. Matthews (London: SOAS, 1993).
  • Iqbal, Sir Muhammad. Poems from Iqbal: renderings in English verse with comparative Urdu text. Trans. Victor G. Kiernan (Karachi: OUP, 2004).
  • Jaffrelot, Christophe, ed. Pakistan: nationalism without a nation (London: Zed Books, 2002).
  • Jahan, Rounaq. Pakistan: failure in national integration (New York: Columbia UP, 1972).
  • Jalal, Ayesha. Self and Sovereignty: individual and community in South Asian Islam since 1850 (London: Routledge, 2000).
  • Jalal, Ayesha. The sole spokesman: Jinnah, the Muslim League and the demand for Pakistan (Lahore: Sang-e-Meel Publications, 1995).
  • Jalal, Ayesha. The state of martial rule: the origins of Pakistan’s political economy of defence (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1990).
  • Jones, Kenneth. Socio-religious reform movements in British India (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1989).
  • Joshi, Pooja. Jamaat-i Islami: the catalyst of Islamization in Pakistan (New Delhi: Kalinga, 2002).
  • Lelyveld, David. Aligarh’s first generation: Muslim solidarity in British India (New Delhi: OUP, 1996).
  • Low, D.A., ed. The political inheritance of Pakistan (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1991).
  • Maley, William, ed. Fundamentalism reborn? Afghanistan and the Taliban (London: Hurst, 2001).
  • Malik, Iftikhar. State and civil society in Pakistan: politics of authority, ideology and ethnicity (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1997).
  • Malik, Jamal. Colonization of Islam: dissolution of traditional institutions in Pakistan (New Delhi: Manohar, 1996).
  • Marty, Martin E. and R. Scott Appleby, eds. Fundamentalisms observed (Chicago: U of Chicago Press, 1991).
  • Memon, Muhammad Umar, trans. An epic unwritten: the Penguin book of Partition stories from Urdu (New Delhi: Penguin Books, 1998).
  • Metcalf, BD. Islamic revival in British India: Deoband, 1860-1900 (Princeton: Princeton UP, 1982).
  • Mitra, S.K., ed. The post-colonial state in Asia: dialectics of politics and culture (New York: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1990).
  • Mitra, Subrata K. and R. Alison Lewis, ed. Subnational movements in South Asia (Boulder: Westview Press, 1996).
  • Naim, C.M., ed. Iqbal, Jinnah and Pakistan: the vision and the reality (Syracuse: Syracuse UP, 1979).
    Nasr, SVR. International relations of an Islamist movement: the case of the Jama’t-i Islami of Pakistan (New York: Council on Foreign Relations, 1999).
  • Nasr, SVR. Maududi and the making of Islamic revivalism (Oxford: OUP, 1996).
    Nasr, SVR. The vanguard of the Islamic revolution: the Jama‘at-I Islami of Pakistan (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994).
  • Noman, Omar. Pakistan: a political economy since 1947 (London: Kegan Paul International, 1990).
  • O’Leary, Brendan, Ian S. Lustick and Thomas Callaghy, eds. Right-sizing the state: the politics of moving borders (Oxford: OUP, 2001).
  • Piscatori, James P. Islam in the political process (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1983).
  • Rahman, Tariq. Language and politics in Pakistan (Karachi: OUP, 1997).
  • Rahman, Tariq. Language, ideology and power: language learning among the Muslims of Pakistan and north India (Karachi: Oxford UP, 2002).
  • Rashid, Ahmad. Taliban (New Haven: Yale Nota Bene, 2000).
  • Rizvi, Hasan Askari. Military, state and society in Pakistan (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2000).
  • Rushdie, Salman. Shame (London: Picador, 1983).
  • Sadiq, Muhammad. Twentieth-century Urdu literature (Karachi: Royal Book Co., 1983).
  • Saiyid, Dushka. Muslim women of British Punjab: from seclusion to politics (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1998).
    Sanyal, Usha. Devotional Islam and politics in British India: Ahmed Riza Khan Barelwi and his movement, 1870-1920 (New Delhi: Oxford UP, 1996).
  • Schimmel, Annemarie. Gabriel’s wing: a study in the religious ideas of Sir Muhammad Iqbal (Lahore: Iqbal Academy, 2000).
  • Schimmel, Annemarie. Islam in India and Pakistan (Leiden: Brill, 1982).
  • Shaikh, Farzana. Community and consensus in Islam: Muslim representation in colonial India, 1860-1947 (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1989).
  • Sidhwa, Bapsi. The ice-candy man (New Delhi: Penguin, 1989).
  • Sisson, Richard and Leo E. Rose. War and succession: Pakistan, India and the creation of Bangladesh (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990).
  • Smith, Donald Eugene, ed. South Asian politics and religion (Princeton: Princeton UP, 1969).
  • Talbot, Ian. Freedom’s cry: the popular dimension in the Pakistan movement and partition experience in north-west India (Karachi, OUP, 1996).
  • Talbot, Ian. Pakistan: a modern history (London: Hurst, 1998).
  • Talbot, Ian. Provincial politics and the Pakistan movement: the growth of the Muslim League in north-west and north-east India, 1937-1947 (Oxford: OUP, 1988).
  • Talbot, Ian. Punjab and the Raj, 1849-1947 (New Delhi: Manohar, 1998).
  • Talbott, Strobe. Engaging India: diplomacy, democracy and the bomb (Washington: Brookings Insitution, 2004).
  • Verkaaik, Peter. Migrants and militants: fun and urban violence in Pakistan (Princeton: Princeton UP, 2004).
  • Weaver, Mary Anne. Pakistan: in the shadow of jihad and Afghanistan (New York: Farrar, Strous and Giroux, 2004).
  • Zahab, Mariam Abou and Olivier Roy. Islamist networks: the Afghan-Pakistan connection (London: Hurst, 2004).
  • Zaheer, H. The separation of East Pakistan: the rise and realization of Bengali Muslim nationalism (Karachi: Oxford UP, 1994).
  • Zaman, Muhammad Qasim. The ulama in contemporary Islam: custodians of change (Princeton: Princeton UP, 2002).
  • Ziring, Lawrence. Pakistan in the twentieth century: a political history (Karachi: Oxford UP, 1997).


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules