Kashmir’s Contested Pasts: Narratives, Geographies, and the Historical Imagination
This is an extended chronicle of the historical imagination in Kashmir. It explores the conversations between the ideas of Kashmir and the ideas of history taking place within Kashmir’s multilingual historical tradition. Contrary to the notion that the Indian subcontinent did not produce histories in the pre-colonial period, the book uncovers the production, circulation, and consumption of a vibrant regional tradition of historical composition in its textual, oral, and performance forms, from the late sixteenth century to the present.
History and history-writing, as the book illustrates, were defined in multiple ways—as tradition, facts, memories, stories, common sense, and spiritual practice. Analysing the deep linkages among Sanskrit, Persian, and Kashmiri narratives, this book contends that these traditions drew on and influenced each other to define Kashmir as a sacred landscape and polity. Within this interconnected narrative tradition, Kashmir was, and continues to be, imagined as far more than simply an unsettled territory or a tourist paradise.
Offering a historically grounded reflection on the memories, narrative practices, and institutional contexts that have informed imaginings of Kashmir and its past, this book depicts how Kashmir’s history and its territory seem especially embattled in its present political culture. It thus places these contemporary debates over territory, identity, and sovereignty in a much longer historical context.
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