Accepted Paper:

Violence, repair and political becoming in Kashmir  


Omer Aijazi (University of British Columbia)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores how gendered bodies move through violence. Using the biography of Amal, a devoted mother and mid-wife in Neelum valley, Pakistan administered Kashmir I offer insights on social repair and political becoming in spaces of protracted conflict and frequent natural disasters.

Paper long abstract:

What is the nature of violence as revealed by its lived and felt experiences? How does the gendered body move through violence? What do these responses reveal about the always-emerging nature of the political? To understand these concerns, I examine the biography of Amal: mother, midwife and resident of Neelum valley, Pakistan administered Kashmir. Amal successfully raised a family with her husband during the height of the Kashmiri liberation movement until his untimely death in 2014. Amal leaves for work every morning hoping that the spiritual rewards of her medical services will bless the soul of her deceased husband. In a volunteer capacity, Amal also advises pregnant women in their communities against a backdrop of lacking health services, difficult topography and other gendered features of life in the disputed region. By examining an ethnography of the everyday, I offer nuanced insights on processes of social repair, arguing that these delicate acts of self-creation and remaking of one's lifeworld not only unfold in the crafting of moral spaces within existing socialities but also in the creation of new socialities all-together, which may transcend the limits of our world. I also offer the framework of moral presence in territory, to understand Amal's life and bodily presence in Neelum as maintenance of place, integral to ongoing struggles for Kashmiri sovereignty.14 years of cross-border conflict and two natural disasters juxtaposed with the subject positions of wife, mother and health worker reveal what it means to be human and political in an overwhelmingly fraught world.

Panel RM-CPV08
Violence, the body and movement