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Conjugated Universalism: From Rural Pakistan to “Worker-Peasant Rule”

By Shozab Raza

Cite As:
Raza, Shozab. 2023. “Conjugated Universalism: From Rural Pakistan to ‘Worker-Peasant Rule.’” Cultural Anthropology 38, no. 3: 334–360.


Across anthropology, political theory, and history, scholars are recentering the role of universalisms in the radical political struggles of the global South. Whereas some argue that these movements realized and even shaped Enlightenment universalisms, other scholars maintain that they promoted alternative universalisms. In this essay, I explore how political actors craft universalist projects by combining and transforming—in short, conjugating—ideational elements across various traditions, European and otherwise, with the resultant “conjugated universalism” more than the sum of its constituent parts. I focus on peasant revolutionaries belonging to Pakistan’s Mazdoor Kisan Party (MKP), the country’s historically largest communist party, who conjugated across various traditions—including Marxism, Baloch tribal ethics, and Siraiki nationalism—to substantialize and legitimize the otherwise abstract universalism of “worker-peasant rule” (mazdur kisan raj). This attention to conjugation centers peasants as worldly actors and destabilizes the universal/particular distinction, one that has conventionally framed the study of universalism.


universalism; internationalism; Marxism; tribes; nationalism; peasants; Pakistan Universalismo; Marxismo


Copyright (c) 2023 Shozab Raza Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.