Languages of Belonging: Islam, Regional Identity, and the Making of Kashmir
Despite its centrality to the political life of India and Pakistan, Kashmir has met with rather perfunctory treatment from historians of South Asia. The few works of history and politics that have appeared on this region, moreover, insist on defining Kashmiri culture, history, and identity in terms of the ahistorical concept of Kashmiriyat, or a uniquely Kashmiri cultural identity. This book, in contrast, questions the notion of any transcendent cultural uniqueness and Kashmiriyat by returning Kashmir to the mainstream of South Asian historiography. It examines the hundred-year impact of indirect colonial rule on Kashmirs class formation. It studies the uses (and abuses) made of Kashmirs political elites by the state. It looks at the responses of Kashmirs society to social and economic restructuring. It shows that while all these historical changes had a profound impact on the political culture of the Kashmir Valley, there is nothing very inevitable or quite definite about the 'political regionalism' and 'Islamic particularism' of this area. Using local language sources and every important archive, this major history of the formation of Kashmir shows precisely how the Kashmir Valley assumed the position it has come to occupy in postcolonial South Asia.
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