While embedded with an Army unit in eastern Afghanistan, I was blinded by a rocket launcher hit to the face.
Preface and Introduction: The Many Faces of Kashmiri Nationalism (Speaking Tiger Books, 2020) — by Nandita Haksar
In January of this year, Nandita Haksar’s “The Many Faces of Kashmiri Nationalism” (Speaking Tiger Books, 2020) was re-released in a revised and updated version taking into account the revocation of Article 370 by the Indian government (on August 5, 2019). According to its author, this book “traces the tortured history of Kashmiri nationalism, primarily through the lives of two men: Sampat Prakash, a Kashmiri Pandit and Communist trade union leader who became active in politics during the Cold War years, and Mohammad Afzal Guru, a Kashmiri Muslim who became politically active at the beginning of the Kashmir insurgency, coinciding with the end of the Cold War, the defeat of Soviet Union, and the start of the War on Terror. The stories of many other Kashmiris are also woven into this account.” Whereas the introduction to the book epigraphs verses written by Bahar Kashmiri in the 1940s, the preface to this updated version begins with lyrics from “Elaan” (July 2019), a song by Kashmiri rapper Ahmer Javed. We present the preface to the revised edition and the introduction to Nandita’s book here, courtesy of its publisher, Speaking Tiger Books. Included are relevant articles, interviews and videos at the end of this document to familiarize readers with Nandita Haksar’s greater work as a human rights lawyer, teacher, activist and writer.
A prolific and multidimensional writer, Amin Kamil proved to be one of the defining littérateurs of Kashmiri language.
Four years after its release, “Do You Remember Kunan Poshpora?” (Zubaan Books, 2016) remains relevant as an essential text that is read, re-read and reviewed, as is the case with this piece by Shah Munnes Muneer. Authored by five women researchers and activists, the book revisits and details the documented case of mass rape and torture of Kashmiris by the Indian army that took place on the intervening night of February 23rd and 24th (1991) in the adjacent hamlets of Kunan and Poshpora (Kupwara). Given the unrelenting spirit and perseverance of the victims, February 23rd is commemorated as Kashmiri Women’s Resistance Day as the struggle for justice continues. As part of such a commemoration, we have included key media and articles embedded directly herein from their original sources.
An “annexe” to a book can reveal the great detail and dedication with which such a book has been researched, elaborated and written. Such is the case with this excerpt from Onaiza Drabu’s The Legend of Himal and Nagrai (Spoken Tiger Books, 2019) that the author names the “Dictionary of Kashmiri Imponderabilia.” The excerpt is an annex listing words, proverbs, expressions and phrases taken from the Kashmiri language in a retelling in English of a series of Kashmiri folktales that, in the field of world literature, are equivalents to One Thousand and One Nights (Alf Laylah wa-Laylah), Aesop’s Fables, Grimms’ Fairy Tales, The Decameron or James Stephen’s Irish Fairy Tales. We have included the summary of Drabu’s book (from the publisher), along with her author’s note on this “Dictionary of Kashmiri Imponderabilia” as well as relevant links. All materials published with permission from the publisher, Spoken Tiger Books.
Book Review: The Poetics of Transgenerational Trauma (Meera Atkinson, Bloomsbury, 2017) — by Katie Lally
Via Creative Commons, here is Katie Lally’s review of Meera Atkinson’s “The Poetics of Transgenerational Trauma” (Bloomsbury, 2017).
Reading Discourses of Power and Violence in Emerging Kashmiri Literature in English: The Collaborator and Curfewed Night — by Amrita Ghosh
Abstract: This essay studies two literary texts on Kashmir, The Collaborator (2011) by Mirza Waheed and Curfewed Night (2010) by Basharat Peer and analyzes the discourses of power and covert and overt forms of violence that the works present. It first contextualizes events from the last three years that have occurred in Kashmir to present forms of violence Kashmiri subjects undergo in the quotidian of life. Thereafter, it situates the two works by the Kashmiri writers in the growing body of writing in English on Kashmir and historicizes the conflict. The essay, thus, argues that the selected literary works represent Kashmir as a unique postcolonial conflict zone that defies an easy terminology to understand the onslaught of violence, and the varied forms of power. As analyzed in the article, one finds a curious merging of biopolitics and necropolitics that constructs the characters as “living dead” within this emergency zone. For this, the theoretical trajectory of the essay is mapped out to show the transition from Foucault and Agamben’s idea of biopolitics to Mbembe’s concept of necropolitics. Thereafter, essay concludes how the two texts illustrate Agamben’s notion of the bare life is not enough to understand subjects living in this unique postcoloniality. The presence of death and the dead bodies go beyond bare life and shows how that bodies become significant signifiers that construct a varied notion of agency.
Professor Inshah Malik reviews Raio Farman Ali’s “History of Armed Struggles in Kashmir” with an elaborate analysis and a brief yet detailed view of the different parts of the book.
Hoda Khatebi converses with Sanjay Kak, editor of “Until My Freedom Has Come” (Penguin, 2011), contributor Mohamad Junaid and Professor Hafsa Kanjwal about the present circumstances faced by Kashmiris in context of what the important text discussed eight years ago upon its publication. This revisitation to the book is as relevant as ever, especially considering the current climate entrapping Kashmir. Attached along with the Youtube Live Stream of the one-and-a-half hour discussion is a series of bibliographical references and resources to familiarize readers with some of the extensive work about Kashmir by the participants.
Amirah Al Wassif from Egypt introduces three poems from her recently published collection “For Those Who Don’t Know Chocolate.” Amirah has published novels, short stories, poems and songs in Arabic, as well as certain works in English with certain poems translated into Spanish. The poems presented here reflect a poetic response to the human condition of those who live under poverty, famine, war, oppression and extremely harsh conditions.
Dustin Pickering reviews “Our Purpose in Speaking” (MSU Press, 2018), the debut book of poems by Emerson College’s senior writer-in-residence William Orem, who recently won the Wheelbarrow Books Poetry Award. Pickering consistently familiarizes readers with Orem’s poetry collection from a particular understanding that is in tune with the reviewer’s greater appreciation for poetry. In doing so, the reviewer situates Orem’s verses within a greater history of poetry inspired by an engagement with God, life, being, existence, nature and world from the optics of contemporary Christianity, and in particular Catholicism. For the greater readership, the review elucidates the relevance of such introspective and contemplative poetry with religious motifs and undertones as one that is equally innovative and in constant development, which is best exemplified by Pickering’s engagement with specific poems and with the collection as a whole.
Book Review: David Devadas' The Generation of Rage in Kashmir (Oxford University Press, 2018) — by Sohini Chatterjee
Sohini Chatterjee provides a thorough ‘reading as review’ of David Devadas’ recent book “The Generation of Rage in Kashmir” (Oxford University Press, 2018). The many ideas that emanate from Devadas’ work on Kashmir are presented by Chatterjee in an elaborate manner to articulate the redundant question of “why are Kashmiris so angry?”, addressing an unfamiliar yet curious Indian and possibly international readership. However, in doing so, the basic and ritualistic understanding of Kashmiri “rage against the machine” is reduced to a lack of faith in the Indian system, again parting from that “unquestionable” premise that “Kashmir is an integral part of India.” Chatterjee’s review offers an excellent summary and understanding of the text, revealing a greater effort from Devadas in critiquing India’s policies and operations in Kashmir, which according to this review could as well be deemed as malpractice, misgovernance and blunt use of violence as opposed to tactics of crowd management in situations of repeated protest. The questions of islamicization, Islamophobia, political Islam and the seeming allure of Sharia law and a caliphate for common Kashmiris are also explored in the book. War profiteering and benefiting from a “conflict economy” by various figures and parties is also observed in the text. Chatterjee, in familiarizing readers, effectively and cohesively allows us to navigate through the important aspects of Devadas’ writing, while also providing a thorough preview of the many ideas that the author elaborates and that require actual and direct engagement with his text to get to a deeper view of his understanding, analysis, synthesis, commentary and historiographic engagement with the Kashmir of the last decade, starting from the symbolic year of 2007. As a proclaimed insider-outsider, and a translator of the situation in Kashmir to an ambivalent Indian audience, a purposefully apathetic and dormant central government, a willfully oblivious bureaucracy, in this book, Devadas also fulfills a scholarly role to present his differed and nuanced views on Kashmir as an alternative to the in-depth research and academic writing produced by a variety of Kashmir scholars. Chatterjee’s reading as review works effectively to generate greater curiosity in a wide array of readers, so much so that the book can be perceived as essential reading for those who wish to understand the conditions from over the last decade that have led to the unchanging and escalating atmosphere of violence in the Valley, of course from within that unquestionable framework of Kashmir being an integral part of India.