From Lamhaa to Harud: cultural memories against nationalism in Kashmir
Paper short abstract:
This paper examines the possibilities of Kashmiri cultural memories (explored in the film Harud and many Kashmiri writings) for anthropological studies to look beyond the political nationalisms that inevitably entrench conflict zones like Kashmir.
Paper long abstract:
The story of Bollywood films on Kashmir, of which the most recent instance is Lamhaa (2010), is normally saturated with political jingoism, and their subject always moulded in political languages of India, Pakistan, Hindu, Muslim, Kashmiriyat, etc. The Kashmiri-directed film Harud (released in India in 2012) was a breakthrough with this tendency: its quiet story-telling carefully avoids political nationalism(s), and concentrates on the day-to-day world of a Kashmiri boy, which is unfolded through his personal eyes. Instead of the competing marks and remarks of 'national', the film is filled by the Kashmiri cultural memories of inert everyday life, army banks, crackdowns and silent protests by the parents of 'disappeared' persons. The resulting subject of the film, composed of the images of such cultural memories, is quite different from the typical political subject of Kashmir, which is always the contested site of the different national ideologies. The subject of such cultural memories — which is located at the intersections of social, political and personal, and which is, according to the director of the film, a subject of resistance — is nonetheless politically non-judgmental. This paper examines the implications of such Kashmiri cultural memories, expressed in the film Harud and many recent Kashmiri writings including hip-hop lyrics, to the anthropological object-making in case of exploring the conflict zone like Kashmir.
Nationalism in fiction and poetry: South Asia in conversation with the world