Between histories of knowledges and knowledge of history in Kashmir: Re-visiting the relationship between ‚the subject,‘ ‚the object,‘ and ‚the author,‘ in contemporary Kashmir-writing

Panel organised by: Rafiq Ahmad Pirzada (Nawakadal College, Kashmir)

Panel description

Within the contemporary epistemological terrain of Kashmir-writing there has been an overwhelming scholarly focus on the ancient past of Kashmir, with Kalhana’s Sanskrit Kavya the Rajatarangini as the founding text from which all the sacred waters of knowledge and history must flow. These recent studies though do not re-visit this supposedly founding text with the aim of understanding historical discontinuities, divergences and the contemporary shifts in the culture of Kashmiri selfhood, nor even to make sense of the present, but rather to reinforce an anachronistic continuity of the ancient culture and history within the ontology of present Kashmir-making. The Kashmir in such studies and narrative is transformed into a land and identity seen as a timeless constant. Kashmir becomes a consciousness/body and a land beyond the grip of time. Within such an epistemological paradigm, all forms of historical diversions and discontinuities which have occurred within the cultural, political and historical landscape of Kashmir – such as the advent of Islam in 14th century and the mass struggle for independence from Dogra imperial rulers and India – are condemned as pathological infiltrations into the Rajatarangini’s Kashmir, or else reduced to a vague generalization as ‘colossal violence,’ ‘loss of culture,’ ‘history,’ and ‘heritage,’ and ultimately ‘Kashmiri self.’

Undertaking a critical examination of these epistemological approaches to Kashmir-writing, we propose to explore, excavate and examine the knowledges and histories produced outside of the ‘official,’ ‘legitimate,’ ‘authoritative,’ and ‘qualified’ epistemes of Kashmir-writing within the largely vast, mundane, but ‘unqualified,’ ‘disqualified,’ and subjugated realms of Kashmir-living, Kashmir-thinking, and Kashmir-talking. Furthermore, this panel proposal is an ongoing epistemic struggle about producing insurrections in the ‘collective memory’ and ‘official history,’ both of which are integrated to each other by the unitary principle of the Kalhana-isation discourse, in order to challenge the established belief, knowledge, and the Memory of Kashmir as a land and Kashmiriness as a cultural identity as laid down in the Rajatarangini.

Paper proposal

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