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Nasser Mufti’s research and teaching focuses on nineteenth century British and postcolonial literature, as well as critical and political theory. He is especially interested in literary approaches to the study of nationalism. His first book, Civilizing War: Imperial Politics and the Poetics of National Rupture (Northwestern University Press, 2017) (online version and PDF) argues that narratives of civil war energized and animated nineteenth-century British imperialism and decolonization in the twentieth century. The conceptual core of the book adapts a famous phrase of Benedict Anderson to asks what it means to “un-imagine” community, while its historical arc tracks the shifts in narratives of civil war from the Victorian period to the age of decolonization to the contemporary refugee crisis. Where once the narratives of civil war were directed internally at metropolitan society, today they are directed exclusively outwards at the Global South and provide the basis for liberal-humanitarian interventionism.
This project has led him down two research tracks. The first examines the relationship between New Imperialism and what Foucault calls “state racism” at the turn of the century. The second, tentatively titled “Bandung Brutalism,” looks at the meaning and contradictions of statist architecture in the age of Third World nationalism. He has published on Nadine Gordimer's late-apartheid fiction in The Journal of Narrative Theory (43.1), Dickens’s Bleak House in NOVEL (49.1), Rudyard Kipling’s Boer War stories in Nineteenth Century Literature (70.4), and on Bio-Politics and the idea of Greater Britain in b2o: An Online Journal.