The Myth of Empowerment: Gender, Conflict, and ‘Development’ in Kashmir


Mushtaq, Samreen. 2020. "The Myth of Empowerment: Gender, Conflict, and ‘Development’ in Kashmir." In Minorities and Populism - Critical Perspectives from South Asia and Europe, edited by Volker Kaul and Ananya Vajpeyi, 277-86. Cham: Springer, Cham.

Author: Samreen Mushtaq


This paper attempts to look at the discourse of development and empowerment in a conflict zone like Kashmir to explore how such narratives are employed by the state to suppress people’s resistance. Kashmir has been noted as one of the longest running ‘disputes’ between India and Pakistan following the Partition of the subcontinent in 1947—a narrative that ignores the centrality of Kashmir and Kashmiris to the conundrum. This paper brings forth India’s nation-building exercise in Kashmir, often hinged on the discourse of development, to show how gender and conflict intersect with violence being central to state control. It looks into women’s empowerment narrative propagated by the state, presenting itself as a saviour of the otherwise ‘oppressed’ women. In doing so, the paper highlights how such empowerment does not translate into a life of dignity for the women. It brings forth women’s subversion of statist impositions to participate in resistance as they demand their right to a national imaginary of their own.

Keywords: gender, empowerment, violence, Kashmir, India

Topics: Development, Conflict, Gender, Governance, Violence Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: India

Year: 2020

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