In Kashmir’s frigid winter a woman leaves her door cracked open, waiting for the return of her only son. Every month in a public park in Srinagar, a child remembers her father as she joins her mother in collective mourning. The activist women who form the Association of the Parents of the Disappeared Persons (APDP) keep public attention focused on the 8,000 to 10,000 Kashmiri men disappeared by the Indian government forces since 1989. Surrounded by Indian troops, international photojournalists, and curious onlookers, the APDP activists cry, lament, and sing while holding photos and files documenting the lives of their disappeared loved ones. In this radical departure from traditionally private rituals of mourning, they create a spectacle of mourning that combats the government’s threatening silence about the fates of their sons, husbands, and fathers.
Drawn from Ather Zia’s ten years of engagement with the APDP as an anthropologist and fellow Kashmiri activist, Resisting Disappearance follows mothers and “half-widows” as they step boldly into courts, military camps, and morgues in search of their disappeared kin. Through an amalgam of ethnography, poetry, and photography, Zia illuminates how dynamics of gender and trauma in Kashmir have been transformed in the face of South Asia’s longest-running conflict, providing profound insight into how Kashmiri women and men nurture a politics of resistance while facing increasing military violence under India.
Ather Zia is assistant professor of anthropology and gender studies at the University of Northern Colorado. She is the founder-editor of Kashmir Lit, an online journal of Kashmiri and diaspora writing, and the cofounder of Critical Kashmir Studies, an interdisciplinary network of scholars working on the Kashmir region.
Piya Chatterjee is Associate Professor of Women’s Studies at the University of California, Riverside.
"This theoretically sophisticated and politically powerful book marks a groundbreaking moment in the anthropological study of Kashmir and South Asia that will also make an excellent text in undergraduate and graduate seminar on various themes and topics."
~New Books in Islamic Studies (NBN)
"By focusing on the embodiment of kinship ties and mobilization of ritual that sustain those left behind, Resisting Disappearance sensitively shows how the political reality of ongoing occupation transforms everyday lives. Ather Zia’s compelling book will be of interest to students of militarization, occupation and colonization, gender politics and kinship, ritual, everyday life, and activism, at all levels."
~Political and Legal Anthropology Review
"An indispensable text...Ather Zia weaves together a haunting, collective memoir of Muslim women’s organizing in Kashmir."
~South Asian History and Culture
"The depth and familiarity of Zia’s analysis is inspiring...This is a truly marvellous book—it is a key contribution to anthropology and feminism."
~South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies
"Resisting Disappearance is about what all of our society forgets: How Kashmiri women are continually resisting, striving every day and resisting the disappearances of family members,usually, sons, husbands or fathers...remarkable as it makes us understand the nuances and the multiple dynamics within Kashmir."
~Feminism in India
"[A]n important and successful addition to both ethnographic works and works of feminist political theory on South and Central Asia."
~Journal of Asian Studies
"[W]ith its engaging conversations on enforced disappearances... Zia’s work goes beyond Kashmir and is a testimony to the thousands of lives left un-grieved in conflict zones."
~The India Forum
"The work pushes the boundary of ethnographic writing by recovering the aesthetics of poetry in the context of doing fieldwork in violent sites."
"[A]m imperative and urgent text... very lucid in style and structure and stands as evidence of Zia’s deeply reflective and introspective scholarship."
Gloria E. Anzaldua Book Prize
Michelle Z. Rosaldo Book Prize
Kashmir Advocate of the Year
Public Anthropologist Award