From Protective Migration to Armed Struggle: Victimization and the Sovereignty of the Body in the Kashmir Jihad

Lecture by Dr. Cabeiri Robinson, University of Washington

The presentation highlights the conflicts that arose within Kashmiri Muslim refugee families and communities as they integrated concepts of human rights into practices of personal, social, political, and militant struggle for repatriation within or liberation from the postcolonial nation-state.

Monday, April 24, 2017

12:00 PM - 1:30 PM
10383 Bunche Hall




For the first four decades after the Partition of colonial India, Muslim people displaced from the contested borderlands of Jammu and Kashmir into Pakistan placed tremendous value on the Islamicate practice of hijarat (protective migration). They defined themselves as muhajirs (refugee-migrants) and accorded spiritual value to the practice of reestablishing the family in exile. By the mid-1990s, Kashmiri Muslim refugees increasingly talked about the importance of becoming mujahids (warriors) and participating in jihad (struggle) as a way to defend their families and to make it possible to return to their homes. This presentation examines the contested transformation of a regional political culture and the emergence of a theory of jihad that is grounded in an embrace of the concept of human rights. The presentation highlights the conflicts that arose within Kashmiri Muslim refugee families and communities as they integrated concepts of human rights into practices of personal, social, political, and militant struggle for repatriation within or liberation from the postcolonial nation-state. It argues that these conflicts have gradually produced an understanding of jihad that overturns Islamic classical, modernist, and fundamentalist formulations of political sovereignty.

Dr. Cabeiri deBergh Robinson is Associate Professor of International Studies, South Asian Studies, and Anthropology at the University of Washington (Seattle) and currently serves as tthe Director of the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Program in Near and Middle Eastern Studies. She received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from Cornell University in 2005. She worked with the International Committee of the Red Cross on a humanitarian assignment in Indian Jammu and Kashmir between 1995 and 1996, and she has spent over 7 years in Pakistan conducting field and archival research between 1998 and 2014. Professor Robinson’s scholarly interests include political movements in contemporary Muslim societies, armed conflict and refugee studies, human rights and humanitarian interventions, and post-conflict reconciliation. Her book Body of Witness, Body of Warrior: Refugee Families and the Making of Kashmiri Jihadists (2013) won the American Institute of Pakistan Studies Book Prize in 2014 and the Bernard Cohn Book Prize, awarded by the Association of Asian Studies in 2015. She is currently working on a second book manuscript provisionally entitled Faultlines: Humanitarian Jihad, Humanitarianism, Inc., and the Making of a Tourist Industry in Northern Pakistan.


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