Witnessing Occupation: Memory Activism in Kashmir after the Abrogation of Article 370 | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online


This paper examines responses by Kashmiri cultural producers to the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A of the Indian constitution in August 2019. These provisions had, in principle, guaranteed the limited autonomy of the states of Jammu and Kashmir. However, the Muslim majority state has since been reorganized, by act of parliament, into two union territories administered directly by the central government without adequate representation from the state, thus delivering on election promises made by the ruling Hindu hardline Bharatiya Janata Party since 2014. The military occupation of the Kashmir valley has been riddled with reports of disappearances, extra-judicial killings, the use of human shields, torture, sexual violence, and other atrocities undertaken in the name of rooting out “insurgency” and establishing “peace.” While this long history of state violence has gripped the Indian national imagination in new ways it was only recently in 2016, when a group of university students was served with sedition charges for organizing a panel discussion and protest around the secret execution of Kashmiri separatist Afzal Guru who was convicted for his participation in the 2001 attack on the Indian parliament, and questioned the human rights abuses in India-administered Kashmir, that it was labeled as inherently ‘anti-national’ risking legal action, the memorial practices of Kashmiris have acquired visibility due to the deft use of social media and the proliferation of art meant for global consumption. This paper investigates the deployment of this language of memorialization and the platforms that enable them.


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