Notes on feminist dissonance

Published date08 April 2022
Date08 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
AuthorNiharika Pandit
Notes on feminist dissonance
Niharika Pandit
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to reflect on the potentiality of dissonance, especially as it engaged
with feminist theory to raise familiar yet pertinent questions about undertaking researchin contexts riven with
political and epistemic violence. Drawing on the ethnographic fieldwork in the Kashmir valley, the author
tracks the work dissonance does in shaping the research questions we ask, the methodological choices we
make and its insistence on embodying a critical politics of location. The author then goes on to trace how
dissonance variously emerged in the field and its theoretical implications in explaining the complex
processes of military occupation in the Kashmir valley and how it takes hold in everyday life. That is,
everyday sense of dissonance as explicated by interviewees brings to light the functions of military
occupation but more importantly, it remains imbued with possibilities that contest, challenge and refuse to
normalise militarised forms of state-led oppression. Overall, this paper makes the case for remaining with
dissonance as a disruptive feminist possibility with epistemic andpolitical potential.
Design/methodology/approach This paper is based on ethnographically informed fieldwork located
in feministapproaches to doing qualitative research.
Findings The author arguesfor engaging with experiences of dissonanceduring research process as
productive affects that can yield politically and epistemically useful forms of analysis that contest
dominantforms of thinking and knowing.
Originality/value This paper builds on existingfeminist thinking on dissonance to contribute to peace
research and theurgent need to centre locational politics and power inequalitiesas we contest dominant
Keywords Dissonance, Critical politics of location, Feminist peace research,
Feminist research methods, Gender and conflict, Military occupation
Paper type Research paper
I want to begin with a vignette from 2017.
At a posh cultural centre in central Delhi, Indian writer, novelist and activist Arundhati Roy
was speaking about her then released second fiction novel “The Ministry of Utmost
Happiness”. The novel is a tapestry of characters relegated to the margins in the making of
the Indian nation-state and followstheir struggles of living thereon. Its plot is closely knit with
myriad socio-political moments in the recent history of India: military occupation of Kashmir,
2002 anti-Muslim Gujarat pogrom, marginalisation of trans people and social mobilisations
against capitalist neoliberalism, caste and religious oppression. Roy is among the few
Indian activists of her stature who have been vocal aboutIndia’s occupation of Kashmir in a
context when calling Kashmir a case of military occupation can invite pernicious state
reprisal including being charged under sedition and anti-terror laws. Indeed, these
consequences remain graver for Kashmiri Muslims who navigate occupation that functions
through their gendered and racialised marginalisation from encounters with soldiers at
check posts, walking past bunkers and military camps with gun nozzles pointed at them to
being confined in homes with tremendouseconomic, material and affective losses because
of months of militarised lockdowns. As well as being subjected to devastating
consequences of events such as the August 2019 de-operationalisation of the region’s
nominal “special status” and settlercolonialism this has amplified.
Niharika Pandit is based at
the Department of Gender
Studies, LSE, London, UK
Received 4 January 2022
Revised 9 February 2022
Accepted 9 February 2022
DOI 10.1108/JACPR-01-2022-0661 VOL. 15 NO. 1 2023, pp. 13-22, ©Emerald Publishing Limited, ISSN 1759-6599 jJOURNAL OF AGGRESSION, CONFLICT AND PEACE RESEARCH jPAGE 13

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