The Parchment of Kashmir
Edited by Nyla Ali Khan.
"In this volume, Kashmiri scholars of all disciplines undertake a new look at their homeland and provide a set of visions for Kashmiri culture and society. The book offers a panorama of key cultural concerns of Jammu & Kashmir today, from the military aspects of the Kashmir conflict to the modern-day revival of indigenous cultural institutions, from the effects of religious discourse and gender-based social hierarchy to relations with India and Pakistan."
"In a recent tribute to her grandfather, Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah, the editor of this valuable collection of essays by academics from Kashmir and Jammu Universities (among others) recalls how, as a child of 10, she witnessed the visit Abdullah received on his deathbed from Indira Gandhi, who: 'tactfully expressed her concern for the stalwart leader against whom [Indira] and her father, Jawaharlal Nehru, had deployed every stratagem in the book and whose youth, idealism, passion and courage had been undermined by the unbridled power of the Indian state." (Khan 2012, 2)
"This cameo portrait of Nyla Ali Khan's dying grandfather clearly haunts this book, as a remembrance intended to encourage readers 'to construct a politics that would enable the rebuilding of our pluralistic polity and society since 'we cannot afford to lose yet another generation!'" -(Khan 2012, 4).
"This collection is an attempt to concretize the foundation for such a rebuilding by securing memories and traditions that, Ali Khan insists, set Jammu and Kashmir apart from the two nations insisting on their assimilation. The book displays the complexities of Kashmiri identity as an overlapping of the discourses of Kashmiriyat, Islam, Saivism and Sufism as, that is a cultural syncretism from the very beginning that struggles today to resist any monolithic homogenization or arbitrary bifurcation that would serve simplistically and brutally as a final solution. [ Khan] offers this fascinating chorus as an example of the pluralism and dynamism of Kashmiri society that years of militarization and consequent radicalization of the youth have not yet, she and her contributors argue, fully overcome." Journal of Postcolonial Writing.
"The collection, to its credit, attempts to bypass the simplistic and polarizing mainstream discourses that have hitherto dominated the conversation on Kashmir as an India-Pakistan problem. Instead, Ali Khan attempts to create a new conversation that is not state-centered, and is explicitly invested in theorizing and describing the regional as an autonomous, distinct and complex space that contains multiple and nuanced perspectives on life in Kashmir For the non-specialist lay reader, this collection offers an invaluable view of the complexities of Kashmiri life, beyond the media headlines and sound-bytes of the contemporary moment. For the scholar of South Asia, it presents an opportunity to engage with local perspectives and analyses of what is often reductively described as 'the Kashmir problem.'" - South Asian Review, Vol. 34, No. 1, 2013
"In the last few years there has been a contest to appropriate and own the idea of Kashmiriyat and turn it to partisan advantage. Several of the essayists in the present volume note this, and their pieces refine our understanding of the term and its use and misuse in current discourse. The contributions emerge very directly from debates among people who have lived together for centuries and who are trying to find a basis to continue to do so Strong regional traditions that transcend narrow religious boundaries are of course common across South Asia, but an understanding of the specific historical context in Kashmir helps us to understand why Kashmiriyat, in its various guises, has had such a strong hold on the popular imagination." Pakistaaniat, Fall 2013.
"The Parchment of Kashmir is an impressively and suitably intricate representation of literate cultures in Kashmir. It is also the best available mosaic portrait of vibrant multilingual intellectualism and multicultural heritage in any region of Asia. It beautifully conveys the complexity of Kashmir's human composition at a crossroads of civilization and thus provides a supple foundation for subtle understandings of Kashmir's current political predicament." - David Ludden, professor of History, New York University.
"The Parchment of Kashmir is an important and timely book. By bringing together writers, scholars and other intellectuals in Kashmir to speak about the history, politics, culture and their lived experiences of the region, Nyla Ali Khan gives us a sense of the complexity of the 'Kashmir problem' from the perspective of those most deeply affected by it. The essays in this volume are invaluable as both analysis and testimony." - Rajeswari Sunder Rajan, Global Distinguished Professor, New York University.
"Conflicts are normal in politics but some of them do turn chronic and irreversible. Kashmir, once a small principality in South Asia trying to break out of the loving embrace of two large nation-states to forge a third one, has become a tragic spectre of itself. By the time its political fate gets decided, both the victorious and the defeated should emerge equally brutalised and ethically maimed. Nyla Khan has mobilised a courageous, diverse set of witnesses to tell the story as an open-ended one, without deodorising the smell of death that persists. It is a disturbing, but moving collection and a tribute not only to a culture's resilience but also to the editor's intellectual independence." - Ashis Nandy, Fellow, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies.
"This remarkable collection of essays about Kashmir brings to light both the resilience and plight of a beautiful and ancient region caught up in the politics of Pakistan and India. Nyla Ali Khan's astute selection of diverse authors to write for this elegant edition makes clear that stirring the pot of religious conflict between Hindus and Muslims has been a cunning strategy of divide and conquer. The tales in these richly informed essays are sad, but it is clear that democratic forces and resilience are still quite vital in Kashmir." - World Literature Today.
"Nyla Ali Khan's edited volume offers a panoramic view of Kashmir's landscape from the vantage points of Kashmiri scholars. These authors speak from multiple disciplinary voices, and address issues that span religion and culture, governance and polity, memory and identity. The volume is both a specific and necessary addition to broader studies on South Asia can clearly be seen to represent a few underrepresented topics within fields like South Asian history, literature, and religious studies." - Journal of Commonwealth and Postcolonial Studies.