ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The New Kashmiri Woman

Influenced by the leftist ideals of the Naya Kashmir manifesto, the post-partition state governments in Kashmir sought to empower its women. Scholarly work on this period covers how it was a particularly liberating moment for Kashmir’s women. Using an autobiography and oral history, the existing scholarship on the meanings of the “Naya Kashmir” moment for Kashmir’s women is critiqued. Even while Kashmiri women were able to benefit from a number of economic and educational opportunities, we must be cognizant of the ways in which the state became the purveyor of patriarchy. One of the shortcomings of this period of state-sponsored feminism was that no indigenous, grass-roots women’s movement emerged in Kashmir, given that those working on women’s issues in Kashmir were exclusively dependent on the state, which was becoming deeply contested and politicised.

The Intimate World of Vyestoan

Through ethnographic vignettes and auto-ethnographic fragments of women’s intimate worlds in Kashmir, women’s congregations, female alliances, friendships, embodied practices, and everyday memory projects are examined, arguing that these constitute an alternate affect and episteme in Kashmir. The concept of vyestoan is introduced as a critical, affective female alliance and companionship of resistance hinged on the notion of witnessing, in life, death, and beyond. This critical female alliance, against several interlocked forms of domination, is proposed as a useful term, rather than the notion of “sisterhood” in feminist scholarship, to understand intersectionality and criticality particularly in the context of Kashmir.

Jinn, Floods, and Resistant Ecological Imaginaries in Kashmir

How Kashmiri women experience and narrate questions of resource sovereignty and dispossession within the context of Kashmir’s long-drawn-out military occupation, and India’s investments in mega hydroelectric dams on Kashmir’s rivers have been discussed. The devastating floods in 2014 led Kashmiris to increasingly challenge perceptions of nature or natural disasters as apolitical. Dams are an integral part of border-making processes, and gender, space, and borders are continually co-produced through militarised infrastructures. Women’s resistant imaginaries, which combine political and ecological metaphors, and rely on conceptions of jinn and other non-human agency, offer a way to rethink Kashmir beyond its securitised geographies.

Gendered Politics of Funerary Processions

On 8 July 2016, Kashmiri militant Burhan Wani was killed by the Indian army, setting in motion unprecedented funerary processional grieving. Using accounts of funerals of militants and civilians, gendered funerary processions and the transformation of gendered cultures of grieving in Kashmir have been analysed. It is argued that women’s participation in the militant and civilian funerary processions is a feminist political formulation in the Kashmiri context. This is understood through a review of the politics of funeral attendance and two specific actions that women undertake: publicising grief by bringing the private out into the contested public realm, thus outdoing religious law, and resisting the state’s sovereignty by grieving for lives that the state deems “non-grievable.”

Dimensions of Sexual Violence and Patriarchy in a Militarised State

Enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, torture, and sexual violence have characterised Indian military operations in Kashmir. Of these, sexual violence has been used widely to “break” individuals and communities, and as a tool for punishing resistance against violence by the Indian state. The discourse around sexual violence, however, has always revolved around women with very little focus on men and transgender persons, given the patriarchal understanding of sexual violence and power relations. A critical part of this discussion is also looking at how the patriarchal structure of the society acts as a facilitator for the effective use of sexual violence as a tool against the people. The sexual violence that is propagated and implemented by a masculine patriarchal state can be resisted well with a deeper understanding of gender dynamics.

Home as the Frontier

In conflict zones, the home–outside binary is often erased in practice as violence enters people’s lives and personal spaces, diluting any distinction between combatants and non-combatants, even as the international humanitarian law and Geneva Conventions highlight the distinction. In Kashmir, a popular armed rebellion against the state, since 1989, has been met with brutal force. Making use of militarised masculinity to inflict violence on bodies and psyches of the people considered to be the “other” has been a norm. In extending the understanding of the front line from the border to homes, actions, bodies, and the everyday trauma that women face, the victimhood narrative is problematised by placing women as frontliners as they witness, survive, and resist.

Moving from Impunity to Accountability

In the aftermath of the Balkan Wars and the Rwandan genocide, international legal policy on sexual violence in conflicts saw a major shift towards stronger international accountability mechanisms. The establishment of criminal tribunals and the development of the conflict-related sexual violence paradigm were some of the institutional and policy changes that occurred as a result, with both acknowledging that women are targeted in conflicts not only because of their gender, but also due to their ethnic identity. The applicability of the conflict-related sexual violence paradigm to the Kashmir case is explored, thereby underscoring the bigger questions regarding the state’s responsiveness towards such human rights abuse, and its commitment towards ending impunity for sexual violence in conflicts.

Women in Resistance

Media framings of street protests by young women in April 2017 projected them as “poster girls” of women’s resistance to the Indian administration in the region, thereby invisibilising the largely undocumented past of women’s resistance as well as daily acts of survival and dissent. Comparing women’s street protests across two time periods in Kashmir—1964 to 1974, and April 2017—women’s role in the narratives of nationalist and anti-colonial struggles is analysed. The struggle for “self-determination” in Kashmir provides women with a space for active political participation. However, as seen in the creation of women’s protests as “spectacle,” it denies women the opportunity to participate as genuine political actors and decide the terms of their participation.

Maximum Sustainable Yield

Some scientific concepts are accepted and sustained by policymakers not because they can accurately explain or predict the state of natural resources, but because they can be used to legitimise certain forms of resource control. Taking the concept of maximum sustainable yield as an example, how it was originally developed in the context of scientific forestry, but entered marine fisheries management and became a part of the “accepted wisdom,” has been analysed. The consequences this has had, for marine fisheries globally and also in India, and the critiques it has spurred have been explained. The msy’s persistence is unpacked to suggest that debates on resource management need to be attentive to context, in order to understand how science may get enmeshed in efforts to enclose and appropriate resources.

Indian Agriculture

Sustainability of agriculture depends on soil management systems that ensure food security, healthy soils and ecosystem services, and prevent resource degradation. Globally, conservation agriculture has provided a common thread for the application of five sustainability principles—efficient use of water, reduced use of agrochemicals , improved soil health, adapt to climate change, and doubling farmer income—in order to tie the mix of interventions with local needs and priorities of the farmers. For food and ecological sustainability of Indian agriculture, the state’s interventions must be on the basis of the conservation agriculture approach.

Bovine Politics and Climate Justice

Caught between deepening ecological, climate, and economic crises, marginal and small farmers in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have been systematically pushed out of dairy and other livestock livelihoods. The growing political environment in India, openly supportive of cow-related hate crimes in the name of upholding anti-slaughter laws, is further destroying farmer livelihoods. Smallholder farmers are organising in creative ways, radically opposed to the dominant policy recommendation, in order to counter this situation and build climate and economic resilience that is socially just.

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