Accepted paper:

The roots of violence in the "Kashmir archive": Moving "on" to the routes of material cultural transfers


Rafiq Ahmad (Sopore College, University of Kashmir)

Paper short abstract:

Arguing against the centrality of 'text' and ´archive´ to the writing of Kashmir I propose extending our study to its material cultural flows by examining practices of circulation and translation of peoples, artifacts, texts and textual traditions that connected Kashmir across Eurasia.

Paper long abstract:

Both the 'authoritative text' and the 'archive' on Kashmir write/read it typically as a distinct mulk and a 'sacred paradise' within a 'South Asian' historical entity, maintained through the rise and fall of its various ruling dynasties. Such a reading/writing of Kashmir indices an imperial reading back of Dogra-State cartography into Kashmir's past, which in turn facilitates subsumption of 'idea of Kashmir' into 'idea of India'. The centrality accorded to 'authoritative text' in the writing of Kashmir by nationalist histories, which treat Rajatarangini as an embodiment of the Kashmir's historiographical consciousness, rends it asunder from its Persianate historiographic traditions.There is a need therefore to reconfigure the 'Kashmir archive' that has largely remained confined to Orientalist and nationalist corpus . An important step in this direction would be to extend our epistemological lens to the material cultural flows; re-imagining Kashmir as an interstitiality shaped by circulation,displacement and translation of peoples, languages, artifacts, texts and textual traditions across its Eurasian networks.

Emphasizing routes, rather than roots, of Kashmir-making I shall highlight the epistemological violence brought to Kashmir studies in the form of essentialisms (e.g., indigenous, territory, Islamization and syncretism). Working toward this objective I propose revisiting Kashmir studies in terms of a cultural hermeneutic, informed by dynamic processes of trastornée with its connotations of simultaneous movement across and within, that demonstrates that cultural formations (such as indigenous and vernacular) are 'always already hybrid,' and in the process of becoming, marked by self-differentiation in time.

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