Red ‘Mao-Lana’ of Asia: Bhashani, Black Maoism and Islamic Socialism in the 1960s

Friday, September 8, 2023 | 6pm to 7:30pm

25 West 43rd Street, 10th Floor, Room 1000
between 5th & 6th Avenues, Manhattan

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Red ‘Mao-Lana’ of Asia: Bhashani, Black Maoism and Islamic Socialism in the 1960s

Presented By: Layli Uddin

1969 was a climactic year for global uprisings against imperialism. Some of the most militant resistance came from within Third World countries, driven by ideas of self-determination, freedom and Afro-Asian futures. One of the few successful uprisings occurred in Pakistan, leading to the eventual downfall of President Ayub Khan. This paper by Dr. Layli Uddin explores the emergence of a Third World Islamic Socialism, articulated by Maulana Bhashani (1880-1976), a venerated peasant-worker leader, politician and Sufi saint. Employing Martha Harnecker’s idea of ‘revolutionary inventiveness,’ Dr. Uddin argues that Bhashani creatively brought Islam and Marxism together to create a new politics of resistance in Pakistan, and reconceptualized Islamic ideas and traditions of ummah, hajj, and bay’ah to advocate for Third World unity, anti-imperialism and solidarity.

The evolution in Bhashani’s politics emerges from his encounter with ‘Black Maoism’ during his 1963 trip to China, role as editor of militant Maoist magazine ‘Revolution,’ and attendance at the 1966 Tricontinental Conference. Employing a range of archives, including memoirs, photos, Cuban and Chinese newspapers, Uddin’s paper reconstructs Bhashani’s travels and networks across Afro-Asian world in the 1960s. This paper demonstrates the emergence of a different understanding of decolonization across the Third World in the 1960s in contrast to Bandung politics, and the development of a progressive anti-imperialist Islam in South Asia.


About the Speaker:

Layli Uddin is Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at Queen Mary University of London. Dr. Uddin is a political and social historian of modern South Asia, bringing together interdisciplinary questions on religion, class and mass politics. Her research reconstructs subaltern political thought and movements in the context of decolonisation, state-formation and the Cold War. Her broader interests are in liberation theologies and subaltern geopolitics in the Global South.

Before joining Queen Mary, Dr. Uddin was a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the Department of Political Economy at King’s College London (2020-2021), Postdoctoral Fellow at Lahore University of Management Sciences (2019), and Curator of Two Centuries of Indian Print at the British Library (2016-2018).

Dr. Uddin completed her Ph.D. in History at Royal Holloway, University of London. Her dissertation explored the political mobilization of subaltern classes in the making and unmaking of Pakistan from the 1930s up to 1971. She is currently working on her first book based on her thesis, Land of Eternal Eid: Making and Unmaking Pakistan, 1930s-1971.

Dr. Uddin is on the advisory board of Jamhoor, a critical left media organization; Bangladesh on Record, a digital archive project; and for Lokayoto Bidyaloy, a campaign and advocacy group in Bangladesh. She blogs at

This event is cosponsored by the Center for Place, Culture and Politics at the Graduate Center, CUNY and Asian American / Asian Research Institute
The City University of New York. It is free and open to the public.