Conflict in Kashmir and Manipur: history, ethnicity, gender

Published date11 April 2022
Date11 April 2022
Subject MatterHealth & social care,Criminology & forensic psychology,Aggression,conflict & peace,Sociology,Gender studies,Gender violence,Political sociology,policy & social change,Social conflicts,War/peace
AuthorSeema Kazi
Conict in Kashmir and Manipur: history,
ethnicity, gender
Seema Kazi
Purpose This paper aimsto focus on the conflict in the Indian states of Kashmirand Manipur. It situates
both conflicts within a historicalframe to underscore their origins in history. Using a comparative, inter-
disciplinary lens,the paper foregrounds the political, empirical and genderedsimilarities in both conflict
zones. Thehuman cost of modern India’s project of integratinghistorically autonomous, ethnicallydistinct
and geographically disparate regions of Kashmir and Manipur is illustrated. By way of conclusion, the
paper suggests institutional respect for, and accommodation of, ethnic minority history, identity and
aspiration,as an ethical, democratic way forwardtowards conflict resolution.
Design/methodology/approach The paper uses a relatively lesser used comparative, critical inter-
disciplinary approach towards examining ethnic conflict. Contrary to ahistorical normative approaches
focused on individualethnic conflict, or the conventional assumptionthat the ethnic conflicts in India are
necessarily mutuallyexclusive, this paper uses a comparative frameto underscore the shared historical
origins and common empiricalrealities of the conflicts in Kashmir and Manipur. This particular approach
reframes conventional epistemic debates on conflict in ways that offer a deeper, more nuanced
understandingof the same.
Findings This paper underscoresthe critical importance of a historicallyinformed approach to conflict
and conflict resolution in India’sethnic borderlands. Challenging statist approachesbased on coercion
and repression, the paper underscores the need for respect and accommodation of ethnic minority
history,identity and aspiration as essentialconditions towards a just and enduring peacein both regions.
Originality/value With exceptions,a comparative approach to conflictstudies in India is relatively rare.
To this extent, this paperdiverges from mainstream approaches. Further,in contrast to studies focused
on individual conflicts examined within a single disciplinary analytic frame, this paper uses an inter-
disciplinary, intersectional approach to conflict studies. By capturing the converging historical political,
social, human and gendered fields of conflict in Kashmir and Manipur, this paper offers a richer, more
sophisticatedunderstanding of the character of conflictin India.
Keywords India, Conflict, History, Ethnicity, Gender, Violence, Kashmir, Manipur
Paper type Viewpoint
Democracy is acknowledged as modern India’s singular and most abiding achievement
(Hanson and Douglas, 1972, pp. 216221).This claim, however, is rooted in a normative,
macro-view of India as a formaldemocracy. Underpinning the claim are contestationswithin
the nation-state, especially in India’s northern and eastern peripheries, peopled by ethnic
minorities. In post-colonial India at different periods of time, the peripheral states of Punjab
and Kashmir in the north, and Nagaland, Assam, Manipur, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Tripura
and Arunachal Pradesh in the north-east witnessed movements for greater autonomy or
self-determination. Presently, over 56 million Indian citizens (Table 1) in eight states across
the northern and eastern periphery of the Indian nation-state live daily life under patently
undemocratic and extraordinarilyrepressive conditions even as India is, simultaneously, the
world’s largest democracy. TheArmed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in force in these
regions accords special powers to security forces. AFSPA violates the non-derogable
Seema Kazi is based at the
Centre for Women’s
Development Studies
(CWDS), New Delhi, India.
Received 5 January 2022
Revised 21 January 2022
Accepted 21 January 2022
DOI 10.1108/JACPR-01-2022-0667 VOL. 15 NO. 1 2023, pp. 39-50, ©Emerald Publishing Limited, ISSN 1759-6599 jJOURNAL OF AGGRESSION, CONFLICT AND PEACE RESEARCH jPAGE 39

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