2013 NESSA Event Explores Life in a Militarized Zone

On Friday, February 8 Syracuse University’s South Asia Center will host an afternoon focusing on Indian-Occupied Kashmir, the location of one of the world’s most long running conflicts as part of the on-going series of talks organized under the aegis of the Northeast Scholars of South Asia (NESSA), a group of faculty members at nearby colleges and universities.Portrait of a female child

Indian-Occupied Kashmir has been a contested site between the Indian government and those who want independent Kashmir for over 50 years. Armed conflict, the imposition of curfews, and the constant presence of an estimated half a million Indian military and paramilitary forces has resulted in the insinuation of violence into Kashmiri people’s everyday lives.

The South Asia Center will explore the implications of this militarization from the perspective of average Kashmiris living in this militarized zone. Our keynote speaker is an expert on the situation in Indian-occupied Kashmir, Haley Duschinski, Associate Professor of Anthropology at Ohio University. Her research has focused both on violence within Kashmir itself and the ways in which militarization has far reaching impacts on the lives of Kashmiris living outside of Kashmir.

Following her talk, we will screen In Shopian, a short documentary by former SU graduate student and independent filmmaker, Chris Giamo (SU MA ’11) and Kelsey Kobik (SU BA ’10). Filmed in 2010, In Shopian focuses on the double murder of two Kashmiri women amidst the social unrest in the capital Srinagar. It features rare on-site interviews with separatist leaders Syed Ali Geelani, Yasin Malik, and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, as well as street battles between local youths and security forces. The film provides a contextualized example of the plight of ordinary Kashmiris, and an aesthetic portrait of present-day Kashmir as a war-torn paradise.

The event will culminate in a roundtable discussion that will include Duschinski, Giamo and Kobik as well as Wajahat Ahmad, a graduate student in the Department of Anthropology. Ahmad has lived and worked in Kashmir; he plans to focus on Indian-occupied Kashmir for his dissertation research. The discussion will be moderated by Christopher Lee, (PhD ’02) and Associate Professor at Canisius College. In presenting this event, we hope to begin a dialogue about the issue through the experiences of common people who live their lives within this highly militarized space with the hopes that it might foster a just and lasting peace in Kashmir. We hope that it will be of interest to scholars of South Asia as well as those who want to learn more. The event will begin at 2:30 pm on February 8 in 060 Eggers. A reception will follow the discussion in 204 Maxwell. The event is free and open to the public.