Accepted paper:

Rethinking 'Colonial' in the Kashmir history


Amit Kumar (University of Delhi)

Paper short abstract:

This paper tries to argue that the nature of colonialism in Kashmir unlike what most South Asian histories argue was not simply negative. Rather the paper argues that colonialism due to the specific conditions of Kashmir worked in a completely different way than various other parts of South Asia.

Paper long abstract:

The history of Modern South Asian history is dotted by the 'colonial'- the colonial state, the colonial ideology, the colonial capital - and the list goes on. One after another, Modern South Asian historians try to count the disastrous consequences that these different 'colonial's' had on the South Asian economy and society - not only during the colonial rule but even in the 'post-colonial world'. If socio-economic impact was not enough, many scholars - influenced by Fanon - added the domain of psychology as being completely transformed by colonialism. It in fact seems that Modern South Asian history has found itself in a limbo - where it wants to get rid of colonial, but the colonial survives through different 'reminders'- of economic exploitation, the loss of the colonial self, the deformed modernity.

This paper will try to complicate this simplistic picture of the horrors or positives of colonialism by focusing on the society and economy of Kashmir. Between the extremes of Imperial and liberal Nationalist histories of South Asia this paper seeks to argue that colonialism was not a simple top down approach, but it worked and was worked upon by various forces on ground. In a bizarre coincidence of things, colonialism seems favorably titled towards the subaltern Kashmiris. In establishing this fact, this paper will try to position itself in opposition to many voices of Liberal nationalism, Marxism, Subalternism in South Asia. It will try to locate Kashmir in its own context by delinking it with the dominant historiography of South Asia.

panel P39
Liberating Kashmir from the 'South Asian' past and identity