UCL Institute for Global Prosperity


Layli Uddin

Research Associate 

Research Summary

My work focuses on the histories of subaltern Muslim lives in modern South Asia. I investigate the politics of peasants and working-classes in popular progressive struggles. I show how subaltern constituencies engaged in revolutionary projects of decolonisation, Afro-Asian internationalism, and Islamic Socialism. I work primarily on Bangladesh and Pakistan, as well as North East India, UK and other spaces.  

My first book ‘Land of Eternal Eid: Making and Unmaking East Pakistan, 1930s-1971’ examines the political mobilisation of subaltern constituencies, and their relationship to Maulana Bhashani (1880-1976), a peasant and labour leader, left politician and unusually powerful Sufi saint.  The book challenges the role of middle-class secular nationalism in the formation of Bangladesh. Using a range of archives and methodologies, I show how popular imaginaries demonstrated progressive politics beyond nationalism. I argue that subaltern Islam generated radically egalitarian politics that contributed to emancipatory struggles against the Pakistani state. My second project ‘Red Islam in South Asia’ is an interdisciplinary study of Islamic Socialism in 20th century South Asia, focuses on the productive interaction between Islam and Marxism through travels of individuals, ideas, and movements.  My published work has looked at anti-communal labour riots; festival aesthetics of subaltern internationalism; and longer history of anti-caste Islam in Bengal. 

I am a social historian, trained at LSE, Harvard, Oxford, and Royal Holloway. I have taught on courses on global histories, South Asia, decolonisation, and agrarian history at Queen Mary, University of London, Royal Holloway, and Lahore University of Management and Sciences.  I am currently a Lecturer in the Politics and International Relations of South Asia.  

In Takhayyul Project, I specifically focus on dreaming takhayyul which studies the historical significance of dream in political formations in Bangladesh.