Nazmul S. Sultan

Assistant Professor of Political Theory 

Department of Political Science, University of British Columbia

I am a political theorist with particular interests in the history of political thought, empire and anticolonial political thought, popular sovereignty, and ideas of the global.

My first book, Waiting for the People: The Idea of Democracy in Indian Anticolonial Thought (forthcoming with Belknap/Harvard University Press), studies how a foundational dispute over the terms of peoplehood underwrote the formation of the idea of democracy in colonial India. Situating the question of popular sovereignty at the center of the monumental clash between the British Empire and Indian anticolonial movement, the book reconstructs a competing set of Indian attempts to redefine the meaning of the people, ranging from a skeptical approach to the criterion of popular authorization to a persistent questioning of the idea of popular unity. In so doing, the book offers a new interpretation of the rise of democracy on a global scale and invites a reconsideration of anticolonialism as a theoretical and historical problem.

My next book-length project turns to what I call the global condition of modern political thought. It studies the formation of the modern account of the globe: one, interdependent, and dynamically integrated. Neither entirely a matter of transnational connections nor of scales, the global condition, I argue, generated a new set of moral and historical expectations in political life.  In particular, the project explores how the division of the world between bounded sovereign states resulted not from a mere diffusion of the norm of sovereignty but from an attempt to intellectually integrate a world that appeared to be both one and uneven. Recovering a protracted history of contestations over the terms of the global condition, the book project ultimately aims to contribute toward the broader project of rendering the global thinkable as a political problem.

My research has appeared in the American Political Science Review, Political Theory, and Review of Politicsamong others. 

Before joining UBC, I was the George Kingsley Roth Research Fellow at Christ’s College, University of Cambridge. I received my Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Chicago and my BA in Philosophy and Politics from the City University of New York. Prior to that, I also studied briefly at the University of Dhaka in Bangladesh.

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