October 19, 2020 at 11:24 pm

Duschinski Presents Expert Commentary, Publishes Special Issue on Kashmir

Haley Duschinski, portrait

Dr. Haley Duschinski

On Aug. 12, Dr. Haley Duschinski, Associate Professor of Anthropology at Ohio University, contributed expert commentary on a congressional briefing focusing on the human rights situation in Indian-Administered Kashmir.

This briefing, titled Kashmir a Year On: Human Rights, Democratic Suppression and Conflict with China, focused on the implications of India’s revocation of the region’s special status on Aug. 5, 2019. 

In recent months, Duschinski has published a special issue of an academic journal on comparative studies of occupation and curated a set of scholarly essays on current legal and political events in Kashmir.

Duschinski, who directs the M.A. in Law, Justice & Culture, is a legal and political anthropologist whose research focuses on law, politics and conflict in the internationally-disputed territory of Kashmir in South Asia.

Duschinski’s research focuses on the portion of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir that has been illegally occupied by India since the end of British colonial rule in South Asia. For decades, Kashmiris have pursued a popular movement for self-determination in accordance with multiple UN Security Council resolutions in the 1940s and 1950s.  

The human rights and humanitarian crisis in Kashmir has escalated to new levels in the past year, prompting various forms of intervention from lawmakers and policymakers in the US and internationally.

A Year of Siege

The Association of Political & Legal Anthropology recently published A Year of Siege: Politics of Annexation and Settler Colonialism in Kashmir, edited by Ather Zia, Duschinski & Mona Bhan.

The series focuses on Kashmir and marks the one-year anniversary of India’s revocation of the special status of the disputed region through the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A of the Constitution of India on August 5, 2019.

A Year of Siege features 10 scholarly essays by anthropologists specializing in Kashmir, released from July 30 to Sept. 2.

It was published as part of the Speaking Justice to Power series of the Association of Political & Legal Anthropology (APLA).

Critique of Anthropology: Occupations in Context

Duschinski recently co-edited, with Bhan, a special issue of the journal Critique of Anthropology called “Occupations in Context: The Cultural Logics of Occupation, Settler Violence, and Resistance” (June 2020).

“Our special issue outlines the need to understand the universal logics of occupation that operate through law, infrastructure, humanitarianism, and governance, while also foregrounding the uneven translations and histories of occupation across contexts. Through this dialogue, we hope to address the limits of existing cultural or legal frameworks and move toward context-driven modes of understanding the varied and flexible nature of occupations and the forms of life they preclude and produce. This special issue includes a deep and thorough analysis of how sites, politics, and populations intersect and diverge, thus contributing to an understanding of the multiple iterations of wars, violence, occupation, racism, and settler colonialism.”

The special issue features a series of ethnographic articles focusing on Palestine and Kashmir.

With Shrimoyee Nandini Ghosh, Duschinski published an article in the special issue titled “The Grid of Indefinite Incarceration: Everyday Legality and Paperwork Warfare in Indian-controlled Kashmir.”

“This article analyzes the everyday legality of the preventive detention regime in Kashmir as a means of waging war against political dissidents. We follow the circulation of detainees and their files across multiple legal venues and regimes to show how the counterinsurgency state reinscribes spectacular and terrifying forms of violence through modalities of banal paperwork and iterative performances of the rule of law. Drawing on ethnographic and textual interpretation of legal documents, including police dossiers, detention orders, and police complaints, we argue that the permanent emergency in Kashmir operates through an everyday hyperlegality of indefinite incarceration that intermingles the systems, techniques, and jurisdictions of colonial policing, bureaucratic paperwork, and military warfare.”

The special issue of Critique of Anthropology is a companion piece to a previous special issue of The Journal of Legal Pluralism and Unofficial Law, co-edited by Duschinski and Mona Bhan, on critical ethnographies of occupation and resistance (2017).

U.S. Congressional Briefing on Kashmir

The recent congressional briefing featured Sehla Ashai, a Kashmiri American human rights lawyer at Texas A&M University; Daniel Bastard, Asia-Pacific Director of Reporters without Borders; Michael Kugelman, Deputy Director and Senior Associate for South Asia at the Wilson Center; and Duschinski.

A congressional briefing is a panel of experts providing commentary for Members of Congress and their staff, to promote better understanding of the historical and political context of specific issues of legislative concern and thereby inform US policy decisions. 

As a Kashmir scholar, Duschinski expressed grave concerns “about the implications of the Government of India’s elimination of the region’s limited autonomy through the abrogation of key articles of the Constitution of India and the bifurcation of the state into two federally-administered Union Territories on August 5, 2019.”

“Over the past year, we have seen a series of rapid policy changes & legislative amendments that are aimed at demographic alteration, corporate depredation, & environmental devastation in the region — changes that have been carried out in contravention of international law and without the consent of the governed.”

“The abrogation and the subsequent new laws and policy changes severely impact people’s ability to earn their livelihood and access land and natural resources. They also raise new and grave concerns related to sustainable development and human rights, due to their impact on key legal protections that previously supported Kashmiri social, economic, and cultural rights and protected Kashmir’s fragile Himalayan ecosystem.” 

She discussed concerns about India’s aggressive pursuit of national and global Investments, transfer of land banks, army land acquisitions, transfer of mining rights to non-state contractors, deforestation, degradation of wildlife habitats, and extinction of biodiversity.

Duschinski also emphasized the role of the international community 

“Given the longstanding international dispute over Kashmir, these rights cannot be separated from the Kashmiri self-determination in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions.”

“There is a human rights and humanitarian crisis unfolding in Kashmir and the United States must take notice. We urge members of congress to leverage your positions, in the US and internationally, to intervene in this crisis on behalf of Kashmiris and in accordance with the Kashmiri right to self determination.”

Critical Kashmir Studies

Duschinski’s work is located in the emerging field of Critical Kashmir Studies.

She is one of five founding members of the Critical Kashmir Studies Collective, a group of academic researchers studying sovereignty, counterinsurgency, settler colonialism, occupation and resistance in Kashmir.

Duschinski explains that “critical scholarship on Kashmir allows for a lens into the broader study of the modern state, occupation, nationalism, sovereignty, militarization, social movements, resistance, human rights, international law, and self-determination.”

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