Venkat Dhulipala

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In the historiography on South Asian Islam, the creation of Pakistan is often approached as the manifestation of a vague loosely formulated idea that accidentally emerged as a nation-state in 1947. In his magisterial new book Creating a New Medina: State Power, Islam, and the Quest for Pakistan in Late Colonial North India (Cambridge University Press, 2015), Venkat Dhulipala, Associate Professor of History at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, thoroughly and convincingly debunks such a narrative. Creating a New Medina is an encyclopedic masterpiece. Through a careful reading of a range of sources, including the religious writings of important 20th-century Muslim scholars, Dhulipala shows ways in which Pakistan was crafted and imagined as "The New Medina" that was to represent the leader and protector of the global Muslim community. What emerges from this thorough examination is a nuanced and complicated picture of the interaction of nationalism, religion, and politics in modern South Asian Islam. In our conversation, we talked about a range of issues including the rise of Muslim nationalism in late colonial India, the contribution of B.R. Ambedkar to the public discussions and debates on Pakistan, 'Ulama' discourses and debates on Pakistan, and the partition and its afterlives. This wonderfully written and painstakingly researched book will be of tremendous interest to students and scholars of Muslim politics, nationalism and religion, and South Asian Islam.

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