My research concerns India’s transition from colonial rule to Partition and independence in the middle decades of the twentieth century, particularly in relation to minority identities, citizenship, and belonging. Before beginning the DPhil, I worked as a researcher in the charity sector and in the Civil Service. I hold a BA in History from Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge and an MSc in International Relations from the London School of Economics.
Thesis title: The remaking of the Ahmadiyya Jama’at in postcolonial India, c. 1947-74.
My thesis examines how the intersection of nation, sect, and religion shaped the history of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at in postcolonial India, c. 1947-74. Research on the Ahmadiyya has tended to emphasise its early history under colonial rule in British India, or on the theological differences that render them apostates in the eyes of many other Muslims. Whilst the focus of scholarship on the Ahmadiyya has shifted to the circumstances of their persecution in Pakistan in recent years, there has been no research on the small but significant number of Ahmadis that remained in India after 1947.
Using a combination of archival and printed sources in Urdu and English, my research will explore how the Indian Jama’at sought to rebuild itself after its leader and the majority of its members moved to Pakistan from their spiritual centre in Qadian, India in the aftermath of Partition. In particular, the Indian Ahmadi newspaper al-Badr will be shown to have been vital in replacing networks that had been shattered following the upheaval of 1947. Through this newspaper, Ahmadis in Qadian were able to provide leadership to Ahmadi communities dispersed across India. Furthermore, analysis of Badr reveals the post-Partition priorities of Indian Ahmadis and raises a set of complex and intersecting questions: how did the Jama’at position itself concurrently as part of India, as part of a wider Muslim world that it was increasingly being excluded from, and as a proselytising movement with global aspirations? In examining these issues, this study will shed light on the dynamics of minority Muslim identity and citizenship formation in postcolonial India.