Bio

Educated in India and the United States, Neeti Nair is an associate professor at the University of Virginia, where she teaches courses on modern South Asian history and politics. She is the author of Changing Homelands: Hindu Politics and the Partition of India (Harvard University Press and Permanent Black, 2011; paperback, 2016). Her articles have appeared in leading scholarly journals, including Modern Asian StudiesIndian Economic and Social History Review, and the Economic and Political Weekly, as well as in media outlets such as The Print, the Indian Express and India Today. Nair has held fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Institute of Indian Studies, and the Mellon Foundation.

Project Summary

While at the Wilson Center, I am completing a book manuscript with the working title: ‘Hurt Sentiments and Blasphemy in South Asia’, which is to be published by Harvard University Press. Through a history of foundational moments such as the Gandhi Murder Trial, the lawsuits against the artist M.F. Husain, the enduring significance of the Objectives Resolution in the three constitutions of Pakistan, the notorious blasphemy proceedings against Asia Bibi, and the cases filed against the writer Taslima Nasrin, I examine the historical forces shaping ideologies in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. In the process, I ask what it has meant for India to be a secular republic, for Pakistan to be an Islamic republic, and for Bangladesh to be a secular republic that also enshrines Islam as the state religion.

Major Publications

Book

Changing Homelands: Hindu Politics and the Partition of India, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press 2011. Extracts of reviews are here

 

Special Journal Issue

Guest Editor (with Michael Kugelman), Ghosts from the Past? Assessing Recent Developments in Religious Freedom in South Asia, a special issue of Asian Affairs, 49:2, 2018

Peer reviewed articles

‘Towards mass education or “an aristocracy of talent”: non-alignment and the making of a strong India’, in Gyan Prakash, Michael Laffan, and Nikhil Menon eds., The Postcolonial Moment in South and Southeast Asia, Bloomsbury, 2018, pp. 183-200

‘Beyond the “communal” 1920s: the problem of intention, legislative pragmatism, and the making   of Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code’, The Indian Economic and Social History Review, July 2013, Vol. 50, No. 3, pp. 317-340

‘Indo-Pak Relations: a Window of Opportunity that has Almost Closed’, Economic and Political Weekly, December 20, 2014, Vol. 49, No. 51

Articles on ‘Hindu Mahasabha’, ‘Pt Madan Mohan Malaviya’, ‘Rangila Rasul’, ‘Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’, ‘Sanatan Dharm’, ‘Shuddhi’, ‘Swami Shraddhanand’, in Ayesha Jalal ed., The Oxford Companion to Pakistani History, Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2012

‘Partition and Minority Rights in Punjabi Hindu Debates, 1920-1947’, Economic and Political Weekly, December 24, 2011, Vol. 46, No. 52, pp. 61-69

‘Bhagat Singh as “satyagrahi”: The Limits to Non-violence in Late Colonial India’, Modern Asian Studies, May 2009, Vol. 43, No. 3, pp. 649-681

Recent Opeds and Popular Writing

In 1964, calling Godse patriot led to uproar in Parliament. Now Pragya Thakur gets approval’, The Print, May 19, 2019. Published in Bengali in Ananda Bazar Patrika, May 19, 2019

Old Laws for New Reasons: The Limits to Free Speech in India’, Berkley Forum, Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs, Georgetown University, August 23, 2018

Secularism and India’s Electoral Democracy’, Asia Dispatches, Wilson Center Blog, June 19, 2018

Rising Religious Intolerance in South Asia’, Current History, South Asia, April 2018, pp. 148-150

In many significant ways, Nehru’s vision for India seems passé’, The Print, November 14, 2017

What did Gandhi Stand For, And How is His Legacy Faring In Today’s India?’, Huffington Post India, October 10, 2017

What does Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification mean for democracy in Pakistan and its politics’, The Print, July 28, 2017

Heroes of Hindu Nationalism’, Op-ed, India Today, January 12, 2015

Previous Terms

Sep 05, 2017 — Jul 27, 2018: Blasphemy: A South Asian History

Resources