Dr. Nyla Ali Khan is the author of three critically acclaimed books : The Fiction of Nationality in an Era of Transnationalism, in which she critiques the nostalgic support of subversive elements by the affluent diaspora from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. In her seIslam, Women, and Violence in Kashmir: Between India and Pakistan, she examine the seminal spiritual and political role of women in Kashmir, while also highlighting the plight of Kashmir generally as a gnarled bone of contention between India and Pakistan. This monograph is now used as a teaching text in several universities because of the growing interest in Kashmir. Most recently she have edited a major The Parchment of Kashmir: History, Society, and Polity, which develops an unparalleled understanding of the region’s culture, resilience and fate as political pawn. Several reviews of the anthology have appeared in academic journals. Her fourth book, which is a hybrid form of academic memoir and biography, on her maternal grandmother, Begum Akbar Jehan Abdullah, was released in June 2014 and is critically acclaimed as well. She visits Kashmir frequently and have recently been active in giving lectures on the subject on Kashmir at universities in Oregon, Maryland, California, Washington DC, and New York. Nyla's goal is to engage in reflective action as an educator working with diverse cultural and social groups questioning the exclusivity of cultural nationalism, the erosion of cultural syncretism, the ever-increasing dominance of religious fundamentalism, and the irrational resistance to cultural and linguistic differences. Nyla was recently made a member of the Advisory Council of the Oklahoma Commission on the Status of Women . Nyla Ali Khan has served as an guest editor working on articles from the Jammu and Kashmir region for Oxford University Press (New York), helping to identify, commission, and review articles. She also has contributed a featured article highlighting the history of the Quit Kashmir movement.Nyla is a Visiting Professor at the University of Oklahoma and former professor at the University of Nebraska-Kearney. She is the author of two books, including The Fiction of Nationality in an Era of Transnationalism and Islam, Women, and Violence in Kashmir: Between Indian and Pakistan, and several articles that focus heavily on the political issues and strife of her homeland, Jammu and Kashmir. Despite being the granddaughter of Sheikh Abdullah, Nyla Khan prefers not simply to live in his shadow but to "stand up for myself and be taken seriously express my anger without being labeled an 'Islamic militant' legitimately question things I don't understand", as she stated in a 2010 interview related to the release of her second book.
Khan was born in New Delhi, India. Her family is based in Jammu and Kashmir, India and she was raised there in the Kashmir Valley located in the foothills of the Himalayas. Her mother, Suraiya Abdullah Ali, is a retired professor of literature, and her father, Mohammad Ali Matto, is a retired physician. She is the only child of Suraiya Abdullah Ali and Mohammad Ali Matto and the granddaughter of Sheikh Abdullah. She did her Masters in Postcolonial Literature and Theory at the University of Oklahoma, Norman, and obtained her Ph. D. at the same institution.
In May 2015, Khan was the first Kashmiri woman to be nominated and accepted as a member of the Advisory Council for the Oklahoma Commission on the Status of Women. The Council serves "as a resource and clearinghouse for research and information on issues related to women and gender bias, to act as an advisory entity on equity issues to state agencies, communities, organizations and businesses of the state, and to establish recommendations for action to improve the quality of life for Oklahoma women, children and families.
In her second book, Islam, Women, and Violence in Kashmir: Between Indian and Pakistan, she examines women in Islam in "the first th[o]rough study of the tragedy of Kashmir done by a Kashmiri woman.Khan uses the analytical tools of postmodern, feminist criticism to understand and highlight the role--passive and active--that women have played in Kashmir's history, ranging from the 14th century Lal Ded, a mystic poet who laid the foundations of Kashmir's syncretic culture, to the present day Parveena Ahangar who represents the Association of the Parents of the Disappeared People. Interspersed within are oral histories from women who serve to defend Kashmir from invasion, women who had previously been long ignored.
She undertakes the role of editor in a third book, The Parchment of Kashmir: History, Society, and Polity. The book presents a collection of essays by Kashmiri academics who are "well-known, well-established, and well-respected within Kashmiri society", but who haven’t had much opportunity to reach an audience outside of Kashmir and outside of South Asia.
Review by Hari Jaisingh in Book Bazaar, May 5, 2013, 1-2.
Review by David Taylor in Pakistaniaat: A Journal of Pakistan Studies, Vol. 5, No. 2 (2013), 137-8.
Review by John C Hawley in Journal of Postcolonial Writing, October 23, 2013.
Her latest book, The Life of a Kashmiri Woman: Dialectic of Resistance and Accommodation examines the life of her grandmother, Akbar Jehan "paint[ing] a loving and personal picture of a powerful woman whose role and actions gave Kashmir a model for women's political action in the critical period before and after the partition of India in 1947."
Review by Ellora Puri in The Book Review Literary Trust, December 12, 2014.
Review by Rehka Chowdhary in Oxford Islamic Studies Online, April 19, 2015.
She has recently been working as an editor for a publication on the region of Jammu and Kashmir with Oxford Islamic Studies Online, which has been recruiting guest editors for projects that examine the "politics, religious practices, economics, women’s and minorities’ rights, geography, arts and culture, [and] major figures" of various Islamic regions. They will be including a featured article by her and plan to expand upon their partnership to provide additional materials to promote education and scholarship about the region.
In her first book, The Fiction of Nationality in an Era of Transnationalism, she "examines the writings of V.S. Naipaul, Salman Rushdie, Amitav Ghosh, and Anita Desai, all four living abroad to explain the aberrant behaviour of emigres from the Indian subcontinent to explain why they support religious fundamentalist groups in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh."In doing so, she strives to provide an objective view of how transnationalism can distort impressions of reality. In reviewing her book, Khushwant Singh notes that the transnational subjects examined by Dr. Khan "having settled abroad, develop an exaggerated sense of belonging, swallow fabricated history of their glorious pasts and despite having no intention of returning to the lands of their nativity give emotional and monetary support to subversive elements."
She co-organized the 2006 South Asian Literary Association Conference on “Postcolonialism and South Asian Diasporas,” which was held in conjunction with the Modern Language Association Conference in Philadelphia. Over the years, she has had sixteen conference papers selected for presentation at major conferences, such as the South Asian Literary Association Conference, the Modern Language Association Conference, Annual British Commonwealth and Postcolonial Studies Conference, and the International Global Studies Conference.
She presented on “Negotiating the Boundaries of Gender, Community, and Nationhood” at the faculty Roundtable: “Transnational Feminism and Research Methodology.” Women’s Studies Conference: “No Limits 2008: Transnational Feminism.” University of Nebraska at Kearney, Kearney, Nebraska, Mar. 1, 2008. She also chaired the panel on “Traversing Political, National, and International Spaces.” Women’s Studies Conference: “No Limits 2008: Transnational Feminism.” She presented "Rethinking State Formation in Kashmir," at the Institute for Public Knowledge, October 5, 2012. Furthermore, she had a presentation entitled "Bridge Builders in the Kashmir Conflict: The Human Dimension and the Role of Civil Society," at the International Peace and Conflict Resolution Program, the Comparative and Regional Studies Program, the Center for Social Media, the Dialogue Development Group, and the Office of the University Chaplin at American University, October 30, 2012. She has given public lectures on her scholarly work at the California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco, and at the Center for Diaspora and Transnational Studies at the University of Toronto, Canada.