Originally from Pakistan, Dr. Masood Ashraf Raja is an Associate Professor of Postcolonial Literature and Theory and the editor of Pakistaniaat: A Journal of Pakistan Studies, an open access journal that he founded in 2009. Besides teaching and writing about issues of postcoloniality, globalization, and political Islam, Raja also actively participates in the public debates through his public writing on his two blogs as well as other popular and scholarly websites.
Raja moved to the United States in 1996, after ten years of service in the Pakistan Army as an Infantry officer.Raja graduated with a Masters in literature from Belmont University in 2002, and earned his Ph.D. in Postcolonial Studies from Florida State University in 2006, where he studied with Robin Truth Goodman.
While at Belmont University, Raja was awarded the Graduate Writing Award and at Florida State he was awarded the Davis Award for Best Graduate Student and Davis Award for best dissertation in 2005 and 2006 respectively. A strong proponent of peace, social justice, and human rights, Raja hopes to foster a better understanding between his primary culture and rest of the world. Raja’s last monograph, Constructing Pakistan, (Oxford University Press, 2010), is an interesting explanation of the rise of Muslim national political identity during the British Raj and offers an innovative explanation of the genesis of the idea of Pakistan. Raja has also published extensively in his area of study and on general academic topics in various academic journals and anthologies.
Raja is also a member of the Advisory Committee (2009–12) of PMLA, the premier journal of literature and languages and was also recently elected to a five-year term on the Executive Committee of the South Asian Studies Group, Modern Language Association.Besides his academic and popular writings, Raja has also actively presented his views at academic conferences as well as through public talks.
Recently, Raja has also contributed his views on various issues related to the Islamic world and Pakistan to newspapers such as the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on a story on Osama bin Laden and to Aljazeera English on a story about the Blasphemy law in Pakistan.Having recently won a million dollar grant from the US State Department, Raja was also the Director of a partnership program between University of North Texas and the National University of Modern Languages, Islamabad.
Raja tweets @masoodraja.
Relying on a thorough understanding of the role of ideology, discourse, and framing, this volume discusses ISIS as an Islamist ideological organization, and examines its philosophical scaffolding within the material conditions produced by neoliberal capital. As Raja asserts, it is this nexus of specifically retrieved Islamic history and the current global economic system that creates the kind of social identity ideally suited for ISIS. The combination of the historical narratives and the contemporary means of communication enables ISIS to frame and spread its message, recruit its adherents, and replicate itself.
While many scholarly and journalistic works on ISIS provide a wealth of information, not many elaborate on the terms that are often invoked in these writings. For example, scholars often use the term “Salafi-Jihadi” but they do not provide a comprehensive explanation of such concept within the same text. This book not only provides an explanation of the instructive terms used to explain the ISIS phenomenon, but also asserts that only one school of thought in Islam [The Sunni Wahabis] is likely to be the ideal target for ISIS recruitment. This claim, of course, does not rely on an essentialized pathology of Wahabi Sunnis, but provides an explanation of the Wahabi Islam as a proverbial “slippery slope”, as an absolutely necessary first step for an individual’s transformation into an ISIS fighter.
Written in a clear and direct style, this volume provides scholars and lay readers alike with a deeper understanding of ISIS and its strategies of recruitment and self-sustenance.
The Religious Right and the Talibanization of America, Palgrave-Macmillan, 2016.
This highly original book suggests that the practices of Taliban and the American far right, two very significant and poorly understood groups, share common features. This commonality can be found in the philosophical basis of their ideological beliefs, in their comparative worldviews, and in their political practices. As Raja argues, the Taliban are much less the product of an irrational fundamentalism, and the radical right in America is much more the result of such a mindset, than Americans recognize. After providing a detailed explanation of his theoretical concepts and specialized vocabulary, the author develops a discussion of the subject in this brief but penetrating book. This is a book that should attract a wide readership among both academics and the general public.
(Co-edited with Hillary Stringer and Zach VandeZande). Palgrave-Macmillan, 2013.
“This brilliant collection of essays not only breathes new life into the field of critical pedagogy, but leaves this reader wanting more.” -David Gabbard, Bilingual Education Department, Boise State University, USA.
Constructing Pakistan: Foundational Texts and the Rise of Muslim National Identity 1857-1947. Oxford University Press, 2010.
Muslim literati … selected for analysis well represented the … aspirations of the Muslim community in their times. –Basharat Hussain Qizilbash, The Nation, Pakistan, September 10, 2010
Raja’s research merits introspection and contemplation of the many issues it either raises or answers about contemporary Pakistan. –Aliya Anjum, Dawn, Pakistan, September 26, 2010.
A . . . lucid and thought-provoking book. –Muneeza Shamsie, Journal of Postcolonial Writing.
The Postnational Fantasy: Nationalism, Cosmopolitics and Science Fiction. (Co-edited with Jason W. Ellis and Swaralipi Nandi). McFarland Press, 2011.
In twelve critical and interdisciplinary essays, this text examines the relationship between the fantastic in novels, movies and video games and real-world debates about nationalism, globalization and cosmopolitanism. Topics covered include science fiction and postcolonialism, issues of ethnicity, nation and transnational discourse. Altogether, these essays chart a new discursive space, where postcolonial theory and science fiction and fantasy studies work cooperatively to expand our understanding of the fantastic, while simultaneously expanding the scope of postcolonial discussions.
Once Upon a Country, (Novel), Trafford, 2002.
The Eastern Breeze, (Poems), Appledot Publishers, Pakistan, 1999.