Kashmiri Life Narratives takes as its central focus writings -- memoirs, non-fictional and fictional Bildungsromane -- published circa 2008 by Kashmiris/Indians living in the Valley of Kashmir, India or in the diaspora. It offers a new perspective on these works by analyzing them within the framework of human rights discourse and advocacy. Literature has been an important medium for promoting the rights of marginalized Kashmiri subjects within Indian-occupied Kashmir and that it has been successful in putting Kashmir back on the global map and in shifting discussion about Kashmir from the political board rooms to the international English-language book market. In discussing human rights advocacy through literature, this book also effects a radical change of perspective by highlighting positive rights (to enjoy certain things) rather than negative ones (to be spared certain things). Kashmiri life narratives deploy a language of pleasure rather than of physical pain to represent the state of having and losing rights.
Rakhshan Rizwan is a writer and scholar working at the intersection of creative and scholarly practice. She is a postdoctoral researcher affiliated with Utrecht University in the Netherlands and has a PhD in Comparative Literature. She has been a guest researcher at the Tilburg Law School. Her research interests include human rights and literature, postcolonial novels, decolonial legal fictions and minority rights and representation. She is author of "Local Flows: The Pleasurecentric Turn in Human Rights Advocacy in South Asia" (Tilburg Law Review, 2017) and "Repudiating the fathers: Resistance and Writing Back in Mirza Waheed's The Collaborator" (Kashmir Lit, 2013). Her poetry pamphlet, Paisley (2017) was shortlisted for the Michael Marks Poetry Prize.
Introduction: The Poet and the Cassette Player
Chapter 1 Mobilizing Pleasure through Genre: Curfewed Night and Our
Moon Has Bloodclots as Kashmiri Bildungsromane
Chapter 2 Literary Fiction as an Alternative to a Human Rights Report:
The Case of Mirza Waheed's The Collaborator
Chapter 3 Imagining Local Cosmopolitanism and Cultural Human Rights in
Sudha Koul's The Tiger Ladies
Chapter 4 Palatable Fictions: Negotiating Narratives of Consumption and
Subalternity in Jaspreet Singh's Chef
Chapter Five Portable Pleasures and Papier Mache: Strategic exoticism in
Mirza Waheed's The Book of Gold Leaves
"Kashmiri Life Narratives: Human Rights, Pleasure and the Local Cosmopolitan is a welcome text in the growing field of Critical Kashmir Studies. It shines a light on the marginalization of the Kashmiris, their political travails and human rights violations haunting the region. By analyzing English literature, especially fiction that is emerging in Kashmir, this book uniquely culls a human rights narrative to bare the political dispute and the grave aftermath that Kashmiris face every day. The content in the book is rich, analysis compelling, and the writing is excellent. While the book pivots around Kashmir, the analysis of human rights narratives in the English literature has a broader appeal. This is a book for people particularly interested in Kashmir but will be of general interest for those who love literature as a means of truth-telling."
--Professor Ather Zia, University of Colorado Boulder
"Taking up such tropes of liberal thought as self-development, market freedom, and the pursuit of pleasure, Rizwan argues with great political acuity for access to localized artistic life as the basic right claimed by thinkers in war-torn Kashmir. This elegant book offers essential reading to scholars of human rights, historical trauma, and praxes of survival."
--Dr. Esha Niyogi De, UCLA, US, Author of Empire, Media, and the Autonomous Woman