Kashmir has remained a central component of how, following the Partition of the South Asian subcontinent, both India and Pakistan have imagined themselves. On television debates in Delhi and Islamabad, over trade meetings in Karachi and Mumbai, the future of Kashmiris has been discussed and argued for more than seven decades. Yet, there is a conspicuous absence of a Kashmiri presence within these debates and a staggering inability to transcend the political to think about azadi in cultural, religious, or economic terms. Soch will explore what exactly it means to find what poet Agha Shahid Ali called “The Country Without a Post Office,” allowing for an honest imagining of Kashmir that goes beyond its relationship to the nations surrounding it.
Nyla Ali Khan
Author, Visiting Professor at the University of Oklahoma, Professor at Rose State College
Dr. Nyla Ali Khan is the author of three critically acclaimed books : The Fiction of Nationality in an Era of Transnationalism, in which she critiques the nostalgic support of subversive elements by the affluent diaspora from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. In her second book, Islam, Women, and Violence in Kashmir: Between India and Pakistan, she examine the seminal spiritual and political role of women in Kashmir, while also highlighting the plight of Kashmir generally as a gnarled bone of contention between India and Pakistan. This monograph is now used as a teaching text in several universities because of the growing interest in Kashmir. Most recently she have edited a major anthology, The Parchment of Kashmir: History, Society, and Polity, which develops an unparalleled understanding of the region’s culture, resilience and fate as political pawn. Several reviews of the anthology have appeared in academic journals. Her fourth book, which is a hybrid form of academic memoir and biography, on her maternal grandmother, Begum Akbar Jehan Abdullah, was released in June 2014 and is critically acclaimed as well. She visits Kashmir frequently and has recently been active in giving lectures on the subject on Kashmir at universities in Oregon, Maryland, California, Washington DC, and New York. Nyla's goal is to engage in reflective action as an educator working with diverse cultural and social groups questioning the exclusivity of cultural nationalism, the erosion of cultural syncretism, the ever-increasing dominance of religious fundamentalism, and the irrational resistance to cultural and linguistic differences. Nyla was recently made a member of the Advisory Council of the Oklahoma Commission on the Status of Women . Nyla Ali Khan has served as an guest editor working on articles from the Jammu and Kashmir region for Oxford University Press (New York), helping to identify, commission, and review articles. She also has contributed a featured article highlighting the history of the Quit Kashmir movement. Nyla is a Visiting Professor at the University of Oklahoma, Professor at Rose State College and former professor at the University of Nebraska-Kearney. Despite being the granddaughter of Sheikh Abdullah, Nyla Khan prefers not simply to live in his shadow but to "stand up for myself and be taken seriously express my anger without being labeled an 'Islamic militant' legitimately question things I don't understand", as she stated in a 2010 interview related to the release of her second book.
Assistant Professor of Anthropology at UC San Diego, Visiting Professor at Colgate University
Saiba Varma is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, San Diego. During AY 2018-2019 she is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and Peace and Conflict Studies Program at Colgate University. As a medical and cultural anthropologist, her research focuses on health and medicine, as well as politics, inequalities, and violence. Her research examines the global military-humanitarian complex from the prism of South Asia, specifically Indian-occupied Kashmir, the site of an ongoing conflict between an independence movement and the Indian military. Her book manuscript, Life in Pieces: Military and Humanitarian Care in Kashmir, shows how both humanitarian and militaristic practices are both performed in the name of care.
Journalist, Writer, Filmmaker
Beena Sarwar is a journalist, editor, and filmmaker from Pakistan. She grew up in Karachi and has also lived in Lahore. Her focus areas are gender, media, peace, and South Asia.
She holds a Masters in TV Documentary (Goldsmiths College University of London) and was on the launch team of Geo TV in 2002. Her news reports and documentary films focus on issues related to gender, human rights, education and peace and are available at her YouTube andVimeo channels. They include Milne Do: Let Kashmiris Meet (7 min), 2007. Currently based in Cambridge MA, she contributes news and commentary to media outlets around the world. She has held senior editorial positions at print and television news outlets in Pakistan, including as founding editor of The News on Sunday, 1993, a founder contributing editor of Himal SouthAsian, launched in 1995, and Editor of Aman ki Asha (hope for peace), a peace platform launched in 2010 by the two largest media groups of Pakistan and India. She has contributed essays to several published anthologies including Making Sense of Modi’s India (HarperCollins, India 2016), South Asia 2060: Envisioning Regional Futures, Boston University Pardee Center, Anthem Press, London, U.K., 2013 and Women Building Peace Between India and Pakistan, Anthem Press (London, New York, Delhi), 2007. Her academic awards include the Nieman Fellowship for Journalism at Harvard University and the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. She holds an undergraduate degree in Studio Art and English (Brown University).
Since moving to the USA, she has also taught journalism at Emerson College, Harvard Summer School, Brown University, and Princeton University.