Professor Sumantra Bose

Professor Sumantra Bose

Professor of International and Comparative Politics

Department of Government

+44 (0)207 955 7811
Room No
CBG 4.28
Office Hours
Fridays 13:15 - 14:30 (email for appointment)
Key Expertise
Ethnic Conflict, Nationalist Conflict, Democracies, Democratization

About me

Sumantra Bose joined the LSE in 1999 as The Ralf Dahrendorf Fellow in Comparative Politics. He became Lecturer in 2001, Reader in 2003, and since 2006 he has held a Chair in International and Comparative Politics at the School.

Bose was born and raised in Kolkata (Calcutta) in India's West Bengal state. After 12 years of schooling at Kolkata's St Xavier's Collegiate School, he went to Amherst College in Massachusetts, USA in 1988 for undergraduate studies. He graduated from Amherst College with highest honors (summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) in 1992, majoring in political science with informal minors in history and economics. He then entered Columbia University in New York City, where he received MA, MPhil and PhD (1998) degrees in political science.

Bose is the author of seven books-of which the latest, Secular States, Religious Politics: India, Turkey, and the Future of Secularism - has been published worldwide by Cambridge University Press in 2018. 

His other recent books are Transforming India: Challenges to the World's Largest Democracy (Harvard University Press, 2013), Contested Lands: Israel-Palestine, Kashmir, Bosnia, Cyprus, and Sri Lanka (Harvard University Press, 2007), Kashmir: Roots of Conflict, Paths to Peace (Harvard University Press, 2003), and Bosnia after Dayton: Nationalist Partition and International Intervention (Oxford University Press, 2002). Contested Lands was also published in a South Asia-only edition by HarperCollins India, Delhi, in 2007 and in Arabic translation by Arab Scientific Publishers, Beirut, in 2008. Transforming India was also published in a South Asia-only edition by Pan Macmillan India, Delhi, in 2013 and was selected by Foreign Affairs magazine in January 2014 as one of the three best books on the Asia-Pacific published during 2013.

In addition to his own seven books, Bose is the editor of his late father Dr Sisir Kumar Bose's memoir and early-life autobiography, Subhas and Sarat: An Intimate Memoir of the Bose Brothers (published posthumously by Aleph Book Company, Delhi, in 2016 with an introduction by Sumantra), and the translator (from Bengali) of his mother Prof. Krishna Bose's autobiography of her early life, Lost Addresses: A Memoir of India, 1934-1955 (Niyogi Books, Delhi, 2015).

Professor Bose's work has been supported by numerous grant-making bodies in both the USA and the UK, including the Social Science Research Council, New York and the Leverhulme Trust, London. He has served as a consultant to the U.S. Department of State, the United Nations, the UK's Department for International Development, and the House of Commons' foreign affairs committee. He contributes regularly to major international media including the BBC, Al Jazeera and CNN. He has given invited lectures and seminars at leading universities, think-tanks and policy forums across the world.

An Indian citizen, Sumantra Bose spends a considerable portion of his time in India. He likes good food, good wine, good cinema (especially on political themes), and travelling, particularly in war-zones and post-conflict areas.

Research interests

  • Ethnic and nationalist conflict
  • Democracies and democratization
  • Peace processes in 'national self-determination' disputes
  • Peace-building in post-war societies
  • The politics of citizenship and identity
  • Politics in India
  • The Kashmir conflict
  • The former Yugoslavia, especially Bosnia-Herzegovina
  • The Middle East, especially the Israel-Palestine conflict, and politics in Turkey

Teaching responsibilities

  • GV245: Democracy and Democratization
  • GV465: War, Peace and the Politics of National Self-Determination
  • GV4H2: Contemporary India: The World's Largest Democracy in the Early 21st Century


Secular States, Religious Politics: India, Turkey, and the Future of Secularism
(Cambridge University Press, 2018)

Secular States, Religious Politics is a pioneering comparative study of the two major attempts to build secular states—where the constitutional identity and fundamental character of the state are not based on or derived from any religious faith—in the non-Western world. A few decades ago, the secular nature of the republics of India and Turkey was considered axiomatic. Not so any more. Alternative, anti-secular visions of nationhood have risen decisively from the political margins to centre-stage and won state power in both countries. The secular definition of nationhood has effectively been replaced by a Sunni-Islamist majoritarian definition in Turkey, where the secular state is dead in all but name. In India, majoritarian Hindu nationalism has emerged as by far the country’s single largest political force, and the future of India’s secular state is in the balance.

This book explains the political transformations of India and Turkey with deep insight and exceptional clarity. It shows the similarity of the two non-Western secular states in not being based on a Western-style principle of separation of church and state, but rather on an operational doctrine of state intervention in and regulation of the religious sphere. At the same time, the author highlights the very different motives behind the establishment of secular states in the two cases, and demonstrates that while state-secularism took a culturally deracinated and deeply authoritarian form in Turkey, it assumed a culturally rooted and democratic form in India. Bose is critical of the flaws of what he calls India’s ‘really existing’ secular state, but argues that unlike the fatally flawed Turkish model, secularism retains relevance in the Indian context and is indispensable to its future as a democracy.

In a lucid, accessible style, Secular States, Religious Politics combines encyclopaedic knowledge of the cases with a sophisticated comparative framework. Its subject, and argument, are extremely topical to the times we live in.

My research