Can You Hear Kashmiri Women Speak? Narratives of Resistance and Resilience is a new collection of essays by Kashmiri women, and edited by the writer and academic Nitasha Kaul and the anthropologist and poet Ather Zia. The essays explore, among various themes, the representation of women in Kashmiri literature; sexual violence and militarisation; India’s politicisation of the 2014 floods in Jammu and Kashmir, and arguments against hydroelectric dams in the region; women’s protests; and life in Kashmir in the aftermath of the effective abrogation of Article 370 on 5 August 2019.
This excerpt contains Kaul and Zia’s preface to the book, as well as the academic Nishita Trisal’s piece on her experiences while writing against the revocation of the state’s special status. Describing the vitriol she received, she writes, “Besides, many suggested that I had no right to speak as a Kashmiri Pandit, especially on such a prominent forum, if I did not speak on behalf of the Kashmiri Pandit majority opinion (which, in my understanding, rejects any stance on Kashmir that does not name the Pandit exodus a premeditated ethnic cleansing/genocide).”
In December 2018, we put together the first-ever collection of essays on women and Kashmir by Kashmiri women themselves. This milestone in scholarly work fostered the hope that we would begin the process of “Knowing in Our Own Ways,” which was also the title of our introduction to the historic special issue of the Economic & Political Weekly Review of Women’s Studies.