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Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS)


Amar Sohal is an Early-Career Research Fellow in Politics and International Studies. An intellectual historian of modern India and Pakistan, Amar is interested in those ideas that continue to shape contemporary politics in both countries. His research focuses on anti-colonial nationalism, religious politics, and the secular state. 

Unlike in Europe where political thought has been associated with systematic theorists operating beyond the realm of political practice, in South Asia it has belonged to political (and especially anticolonial) actors who were interested in changing the destiny of their country. Until recently, a dominant empirical approach to writing about Indian nationalists had obscured this rich but neglected body of political thought. Amar’s work contributes to an emerging scholarship committed to understanding these figures as political thinkers. It seeks, therefore, to not only fill a historiographical void, but to use this neglected thought to participate in a present-day discussion about the political in South Asia. 

Amar read History at University College London before going to Balliol College, Oxford for a MSt in South Asian History and Hindi Literature. In 2019, he completed his DPhil in History at Merton College, Oxford under the supervision of Professor Faisal Devji. He has since revised his dissertation for a monograph, The Muslim Secular: Parity and the Politics of India's Partition (OUP, 2023). It examines the political thought of three eminent Indian Muslim nationalists of the twentieth century—Abul Kalam Azad, Sheikh Abdullah, and Abdul Ghaffar Khan. Amar argues for the presence of a distinct Muslim secularity within the grander intellectual family of secular Indian nationalism.  

His next project explores how a set of modern Hindu nationalists engaged in fraught experiments with conservatism, secularism, and ideas of Pakistan. His work has been published in leading academic journals: Modern Intellectual History, Global Intellectual History, and South Asia. 

Apart from his academic output, Amar continues to engage in outreach projects. In 2016, he scripted and anchored the hour-long documentary film Azad and Jinnah: A Political Rivalry in Late Colonial India. It features dramatizations, interviews with leading academics, and some of Amar’s initial doctoral research. A rare attempt at bringing competing, pre-Partition visions of an Indian Muslim future to a wider, non-specialist audience, it has also been integrated into undergraduate curricula across the globe. 


Key publications: 



The Muslim Secular: Parity and the Politics of India’s Partition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2023) 


'Pure Kashmir: Nature, Freedom and Counternationalism', Modern Intellectual History 19/4 (2022), 1106–33, 

'Kashmiri Secularism: Religious Politics in the Age of Democracy', Global Intellectual History 7/6 (2022), 994–1015, 

Co-authored with Taushif Kara, 'Introduction: Creative Minorities', Global Intellectual History 7/6 (2022), 967-73, 

‘Ideas of Parity: Muslims, Sikhs and the 1946 Cabinet Mission Plan’, South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies 40/4 (2017), 706-22, 

Research Fellow in Politics and International Studies

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