Sumrin Kalia

Populist Imaginaries in Pakistan

Using populism theories and extensive ethnographic data, Dr. Sumrin Kalia investigates populist narratives in networks and their impact on citizen subjectivities.

Populist Imaginaries in Pakistan

An exploration how populism gains support in different networks and the conditions which make it successful

Dr Sumrin Kalia’s project entails an exploration of populist narratives which travel in different networks and shape citizen subjectivities. Drawing from theories of populism and connecting them with deep ethnographic data, the project seeks to explore how populism gains support in different networks and the conditions which make it successful in the Pakistani context.

Dr. Sumrin Kalia is a post-doctoral fellow at the ERC funded Takhayyul Project working on South Asia. Her work at Takhayyul focuses on the socio-political processes which feed Islamist populist politics in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Through ethnographically excavating the discourses of Islamist social movements, she seeks to understand the ways through which Islamism provides imaginative and affective content to populist mobilizations. A cross-national comparison will explore not only how these discourses travel across countries but also how they are shaped to local contexts.

Conceptually her work brings together theories of civil society and Islamism while placing them in the broader domain of political culture. In her PhD, which she completed from Free University of Berlin, Sumrin explored the role of Islamist associations in strengthening and weakening civil society. She also published papers on urban conflict, bureaucratic policy making and local government in Pakistan. In these works, she highlights the importance of citizen-state interactions in shaping political culture.

Link to further work 


Name Sumrin Kalia
Role Staff
Department The Bartlett Institute for Global Prosperity


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