Masood Ashraf Raja PhD


Author of Constructing Pakistan (Oxford UP), Dr. Masood Ashraf Raja is an Assistant Professor of Postcolonial Literature and Theory and the editor of Pakistaniaat: A Journal of Pakistan Studies.

Dr. Raja specializes in politics of the Islamic world, issues of Islamic radicalism, and US relations with the Muslim world with a specific focus on Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Middle East.

Dr. Raja moved from Pakistan, his native country, to America in 1996 after ten years of military service as an officer in the Pakistan army. Raja hopes to foster a better understanding between the people of his primary culture and the rest of the world through his writings, teaching assignments, and through public intellectual exchanges. He is currently working on his second book, entitled Secular Fundamentalism: Poetics of Incitement and the Muslim Sacred.

“Masood, your public speaking presentation on Pakistan and Three Cups of Tea was most informative.  Our audience was huge (for us) because everyone wanted to hear you.  And they all went away with such laudatory comments.  We will have to make arrangements for you to come back.”  – Nancy McGrath, Our Lady of Elms High School, Akron, OhioKeynote topics

Political IslamSouth Asia–Pakistan and AfghanistanUS Relations with the Muslim WorldGlobalization and NeoliberalismPostcolonialism and CosmopolitanismAdditional information on Dr. Raja

Selected Public Talks

  • The Franklin Club. “US Pakistan Relations.” February 9, 2009.
  • Ohio Democratic Alliance. “Pakistan and Afghanistan.” January 6, 2009.
  • Belmont University. Seventh Annual Symposium on ‘Debate, Dissent and Dialogue’ (One of the three keynote speakers), 2008.
  • Akron Peace Group. “Pakistan and Three Cups of Tea.” December 3, 2008.
  • Book Discussion. Time and the River. Kent State University. Fall 2008.

Selected Publications


  • Constructing Pakistan: Foundational Texts and the Rise of Muslim National Identity (Oxford UP, 2010).
  • This book addresses the hitherto neglected aspect of postcolonial and historical engagement with the creation and construction of Indian Muslim national identity before the partition of India in 1947.  Challenging the conventional and postcolonial appraisals of the Indian national history, I suggest that the Indian Muslim particular identity and Muslim exceptionalism preceded the rise of Congress or Ghandhian nationalism.
  • The Postnational Fantasy: Nationalism, Cosmopolitics and Science Fiction. (co-edited with Jason W. Ellis and Swaralip Nandi). McFarland Press (Forthcoming).
  • Once Upon a Country, (Novel), Trafford, 2002.
  • The Eastern Breeze, (Poems), Appledot Publishers, Pakistan, 1999.

Refereed Journal Articles:

  • “Jihad in Islam: Colonial Encounter, the Neoliberal Order, and the Muslim Subject of Resistance.” The American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences Vol. 26 (4) 2009: 47-71.
  • This essay is a study of Jihad as a reactionary practice and the impact of neoliberal economics on Jihadist movements.  My main claim is that failure of the postcolonial nation-state due to restructuring mandates forced by International players is an important cause of the rise of Jihadist movements.
  • “The Rhetoric of Democracy and War on Terror: The Case of Pakistan.” Pakistaniaat: A Journal of Pakistan Studies Vol. 1 (2) 2009: 60-65.
  • This essay is a critique of the US policy toward Pakistan, with a special focus on the US support of the unconstitutional regime of General Pervez Musharraf.
  • “The Indian Rebellion of 1857 and Mirza Ghalib’s Narrative of Survival.” Prose Studies Vol. 31 (1) 2009: 40-54.
  • This essay provides a discussion of the rise of Indian Muslim exceptionlism as expressed in the diary of Ghalib, the leading Muslim poet of his time.
  • “The Postcolonial Student: Learning the Ethics of Global Solidarity in an English Classroom.” Radical Teacher. No. (82) 2008: 32-37. This essay provides a discussion of my pedagogical practices in an undergraduate world literature class.
  • “Muhammad Iqbal: Islam, the West, and the Quest for a Modern Muslim Identity.” The International Journal of Asian Philosophical Association. Vol. 1 (1) 2008: 33-45.
  • Using one major poem of Allama Muhammad Iqbal, the Muslim poet-philosopher, this essay discusses Iqbal’s view of the colonial West and his emphasis on Islam as an alternative world system.
  • “The King Buzzard: Bano Qudsia’s Postnational Allegory and the Nation-State.” Mosaic: A Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Literature. Vol. 40 (1) 2007: 95-110.
  • Using Bano Qudsia’s Urdu novel Raja Gidh as a point of departure, this essay analyses the ambivalent role of the novel in articulating the national and postnational tendencies of the Islamic world in general and Pakistan in particular.
  • “Joseph Conrad: Question of Racism and the Representation of Muslims in his Malayan Works.”  Postcolonial Text [online]. Vol. 3 (4) 2007: 1-13.
  • Taking the discussion of Jospeh Conrad’s alleged racism beyond The Heart of Darkness, this essay highlights the importance of Conrad’s Muslim characters in his Malay novels.
  • “Operation Enduring Freedom and the Politics of Popular Representation.” Muslim Public Affairs Journal. 2007: 81-90. This essay provides a brief discussion of US war in Afghanistan as viewed and reported by local Pakistani media.
  • “We is All People: The Marginalized East-Indian and the Economy of Difference in Lovelace’s The Dragon Can’t Dance. Caribbean Studies Vol. 34 (1) 2006: 111-130.
  • This essay provides a discussion of the novel’s Idno-Trinidadian and African Creole characters within the framework of Trinidadian national divide between the two corresponding significant political communities.
  • “Qurratulain Hyder’s River of Fire: The Novel and the Politics of Writing Beyond the Nation-State.” Interactions Vol. 15 (2) 2006: 49-60.
  • This article provides a discussion of the most important Urdu novel—translated into English in 1998—as a critique of the post-partition struggles of national identity in India and Pakistan with a special focus on the author’s attempt at retrieving a collective memory for Hindus and Muslims of India.
  • “Reading the Postcolony in the Center: V.S Naipaul’s A Bend in the River.” South Asian Review: Special Issue on V. S. Naipaul Vol. 26 (1) 2005: 224-239.
  • Forcing a different kind of reading of Naipaul’s problematic texts, this essay offers a reading strategy that goes beyond the politics of representation in order to transform the text into a launching pad for further study of the cultures that it attempts to represent.
  • “Death as a Form of Becoming: The Muslim Imagery of Death and Necropolitics.” Digest of Middle East Studies Vol. 14 (2) 2005: 8-26.
  • Responding to Achille Mbembe’s theorization of necropolitics, this essay discusses the concept of death in Islam as represented in Pakistani popular fiction.

Selected Academic Presentations

  • “” Invited Panelist. First Winter Theory Institute, Society for Critical Exchange, the University of Houston-Victoria, February 2010.
  • “Muhammad Iqbal: Islam, the West, and the Question of   Muslim Modernity.” Modern Languages Association, 125th Annual Convention, Philadelphia, December 2009.
  • “Cosmopolitan Pretensions and the Imperial Project: V.S Naipaul on Islam.” American Comparative Literature Association, Harvard University, March 2009.
  • “Please Argue Some More.” Discussion Panel with Michael Berube and Daniel Frick. The Seventh Annual Humanities Symposium. Belmont University, September 2008.
  • “Jihad in Islam: The Creation of a Mujahid Identity in the Past and Present.”  The Seventh Annual Humanities Symposium. Belmont University, September 2008.
  • “Women, Islam, and the Concept of Motherhood in the works of Muhammad Iqbal and Qurratulain Hyder.” American Comparative Literature Association, California State University, April 2008.
  • “The Call of Death: the Iraq War and the Muslim Hero in Pakistani Popular Fiction.” 34th Annual Conference on South Asia, University of Wisconsin-Madison, October 2005.
  • “Muhammad Iqbal: Empire and the Liberatory Potential of Religion.” American Comparative Literature Association, Pennsylvania State University, March 2005.
  • “Doctorow’s Ragtime: Inserting Class in a Literary Discussion.” Seventh Annual Conference, Marxist Reading Group, University of Florida, Gainesville, March 2005.
  • “We is All People: The Marginalized East-Indian in Lovelace’s Dragon Can’t Dance.” Southern American Studies Association, Louisiana State University, February 2005.
  • “Beyond National Cinema: The Politics of Asian Diasporic Cultural Production.” Round Table Discussion. 30th Annual Conference on Literature and Film, Florida State University, January 2005.
  • “Tradition and its Alternatives.” Chair, Conference Panel. 29th Annual Conference on Literature and Film, Florida State University, January 2004.
  • “Necropolitics: Death as a Form of Becoming.” Comparative Literature Conference, University of Texas, Austin, October 2004.
  • “Wars of Preemption and the Muslim Imaginary of Death.” Literature Colloquium, Florida State University, Fall 2004.
  • “Salman Rushdie and the Politics of Representation.” Literature Colloquium, Florida State University, Fall 2003.

Contact information

To book Dr. Raja or learn more, please contact him directly

Masood A. Raja, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor – Postcolonial Literature and Theory – Department of English – Kent State University – Editor, Pakistaniaat:


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