Ayesha Jalal

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Ayesha Jalal
Born Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan
Residence Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Nationality Pakistan, American
Fields History and Sociology
Institutions University of Wisconsin–Madison
Columbia University
Lahore University of Management Sciences
Tufts University
Harvard University
Alma mater Wellesley College
Trinity College, Cambridge
Notable awards MacArthur Fellows Program, Sitara-i-Imtiaz

Ayesha Jalal (Punjabi, Urdu: عائشہ جلال‎) is a Pakistani-American historian. She is the Mary Richardson Professor of History at Tufts University and a 1998 MacArthur Fellow. The bulk of her work deals with the creation of Muslim identities in modern South Asia.[1]

Early life[edit]

Ayesha Jalal was born in Lahore in Pakistan to Hamid Jalal, a senior Pakistani civil servant, and is the grandniece of the renowned Urdu fiction writer Saadat Hasan Manto. She came to New York at the age of 14 when her father was posted at the Pakistan Mission to the United Nations.

She obtained her BA, majoring in History and Political Science, from Wellesley College, USA, and her doctorate in history from Trinity College at University of Cambridge, where she wrote her Ph.D. dissertation: 'Jinnah, the Muslim League and the Demand for Pakistan'.


Ayesha Jalal has been Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge (1980–84), Leverhulme Fellow at the Center of South Asian Studies, Cambridge (1984–87), Fellow of the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington, DC (1985–86) and Academy Scholar at the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies(1988–90). She has taught at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, Tufts University, Columbia University, Harvard University and Lahore University of Management Sciences.

She is among the most prominent American academics who writes on the history of South Asia. In her book "The Sole Spokesman" (Cambridge University Press, 1985 and 1994), Jalal gives her perspective of what happened in the years between the 1937 elections and the Partition of the Indian subcontinent, identifying the factors which led to the creation of Pakistan and provides new insights into the nature of the British transfer of power in India. In particular, she focuses on the role of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the leader of the All-India Muslim League, and the main proponent of the Two Nation Theory on which the demand for Pakistan was based. Jinnah claimed to be the sole spokesman of all Indian Muslims, not only in provinces where they were in a majority but also in the provinces where they were in a minority. Yet given the political geography of the subcontinent it was clear that there would always be as many Muslims outside a specifically Muslim state as inside it. This book investigates how Jinnah proposed to resolve the contradiction between assertions of a separate Muslim "nation" and the need for a strategy which could safeguard the interests of all Indian Muslims. It does so by identifying Jinnah's real political aims, the reasons why he was reluctant to bring them into the open, and his success or failure in achieving them.

Jalal's other books include: "The State of Martial Rule: the Origins of Pakistan's Political Economy of Defence" (Cambridge University Pres, 1990); "Democracy and Authoritarianism in South Asia: a Comparative and Historical Perspective" (Cambridge University Press 1995); "Modern South Asia: History, Culture and Political Economy", coauthored with Sugata Bose (Routledge 1998); "Self and Sovereignty: the Muslim Individual and the Community of Islam in South Asia since c.1850" (Routledge, 2000) and "Partisans of Allah: Jihad in South Asia" (Harvard University Press, 2008). Her most recent book based on the Lawrence Stone Lectures she gave at the Davis Center at Princeton University is called The Pity of Partition: Manto's Life, Times and Work Across the India Pakistan Divide (Princeton University Press, forthcoming March 2013).


A leading historian of Pakistan as well as South Asia, Prof. Jalal has received numerous awards and acknowledgements including the Prize Fellowship from Trinity College (1980–84), the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (1998-2003) and the Sitara-i-Imtiaz, one of Pakistan's highest civilian awards, in 2009.


  • The Sole Spokesman: Jinnah, the Muslim League and the Demand for Pakistan (Cambridge University Press, 1985)
  • The State of Martial Rule: The Origins of Pakistan’s Political Economy of Defence (Cambridge University Press, 1990)
  • Democracy and Authoritarianism in South Asia: A Comparative and Historical Perspective (Cambridge University Press, 1995)
  • Nationalism, Democracy and Development: State and Politics in India (co-edited with Sugata Bose (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1997)
  • Modern South Asia: History, Culture, and Political Economy (co-authored with Sugata Bose) (Routledge, 1998)
  • Self and Sovereignty: Individual and Community in South Asian Islam Since 1850 (Routledge, 2000)
  • Partisans of Allah: Jihad in South Asia (Harvard University Press, 2008)
  • "Freedom and equality: from Iqbal's philosophy to Sen's ethical concerns", in Kanbur, Ravi; Basu, Kaushik, Arguments for a better world: essays in honor of Amartya Sen Volume II: Society, institutions and development, Oxford New York, pp. 452–469, ISBN 9780199239979 (Oxford University Press, 2009)
  • "The Pity of Partition: Manto's Life, Times and Work across the India-Pakistan Divide (Princeton University, 2013)
  • "The Struggle for Pakistan: A Muslim Homeland and Global Politics", (Harvard University Press, 2014)


  1. ^ "Pakistan needs to breed more historians". The Hindu. Retrieved 28 January 2012. 

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