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Colonizing Kashmir
State-building under Indian Occupation
Hafsa Kanjwal


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July 2023
384 pages.
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Hardcover ISBN: 9781503635388
Paperback ISBN: 9781503636033
Ebook ISBN: 9781503636040

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The Indian government, touted as the world's largest democracy, often repeats that Jammu and Kashmir—its only Muslim-majority state—is "an integral part of India." The region, which is disputed between India and Pakistan, and is considered the world's most militarized zone, has been occupied by India for over seventy-five years. In this book, Hafsa Kanjwal interrogates how Kashmir was made "integral" to India through a study of the decade long rule (1953-1963) of Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad, the second Prime Minister of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. Drawing upon a wide array of bureaucratic documents, propaganda materials, memoirs, literary sources, and oral interviews in English, Urdu, and Kashmiri, Kanjwal examines the intentions, tensions, and unintended consequences of Bakshi's state-building policies in the context of India's colonial occupation. She reveals how the Kashmir government tailored its policies to integrate Kashmir's Muslims while also showing how these policies were marked by inter-religious tension, corruption, and political repression.

Challenging the binaries of colonial and postcolonial, Kanjwal historicizes India's occupation of Kashmir through processes of emotional integration, development, normalization, and empowerment to highlight the new hierarchies of power and domination that emerged in the aftermath of decolonization. In doing so, she urges us to question triumphalist narratives of India's state-formation, as well as the sovereignty claims of the modern nation-state.

About the author

Hafsa Kanjwal is Assistant Professor of History at Lafayette College.

"Colonizing Kashmir offers a brilliant rethinking of how sovereignty and secularism work to obscure the colonizing projects of postcolonial states. For India, Kanjwal argues, the colonial occupation of Kashmir is not an aberration nor a residual of the past, rather pivotal to the formation of the newly independent state. Scholars of religion, settler colonialism, secularism, and anyone interested in the varied and unexpected modalities through which territorial control functions will gain tremendously from the sharp conceptual interventions in this meticulously researched book."

—Jasbir K Puar, Rutgers University

"Hafsa Kanjwal brilliantly illuminates how India consolidated its occupational control over Kashmir through state-level practices across multiple institutional domains – development, tourism, film production, economic policies, culture, and law. Through archival and interpretative analysis of a rich variety of previously unexamined primary source historical materials, Kanjwal demonstrates how India cemented Kashmir's accession over time and, in effect, domesticated the international dispute. Her fine-grained analysis of processes of integration, normalization, and bureaucratization reveals how state-building operates as a mechanism for building, entrenching, and sustaining an architecture of colonial occupation in a 'space of political liminality' such as Kashmir."

—Haley Duschinski, Ohio University

"Colonizing Kashmir is essential reading for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the region. Its diligent analysis and exhaustive documentation deftly incorporates the perspectives of Kashmir's political consciousness and memory. In doing so, the book challenges and disrupts existing historiographical frameworks pertaining to Kashmir and its politics. The work holds considerable resonance with the present and future trajectory of Kashmir."

—Haris Zargar, Middle East Eye

"Historically invasive, theoretically cutting edge, and written in prose at once mellifluous and purposeful, this book is nothing short of a wonderfully mesmerizing intellectual earthquake in the fields of South Asian history and contemporary politics more broadly."

New Books Network

"Colonizing Kashmir enables us to understand the repetitious discourse of development and normalcy through a historicization that allows for understanding the present forms of India's colonization of Kashmir as settler-colonial."

—Goldie Osuri, The Contrapuntal

"Kashmir's people have had a troubled history since 1947. Kanjwal presents a scholarly, impassioned historical analysis of the Indian-occupied Kashmir Valley during the crucial, decade-long regime of Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad.... Recommended."

—M. H. Fisher, CHOICE