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Occupied Kashmir: Poetry and Disappearance

A new episode of AAWW Radio with guests Ather Zia, Hafsa Kanjwal, and Sameetah Agha

By AAWW Radio

How do you simultaneously disappear people and their hope? Can you keep that hope alive through writing?

On this episode of AAWW Radio, we learn more about the current brutal lockdown in Indian-occupied Kashmir (66 days long as of the release of this podcast), the history of enforced disappearances that haunts Kashmiris, and how political writing and poetry, like the work of Agha Shahid Ali, connects the Kashmiri diaspora to their home.

We hear from several people at the forefront of Kashmiri diasporic literature and activism: Ather Zia, Professor of Anthropology and Gender Studies at University of Northern Colorado Greeley and author of Resisting Disappearance: Military Occupation and Women’s Activism in Kashmir, as well as Hafsa Kanjwal, professor of South Asian History at Lafayette College and an organizer with Stand With Kashmir.

We also hear readings of Agha Shahid Ali’s poetry by his sister Sameetah Agha, Professor of Social Science and Cultural Studies at Pratt Institute.


This episode was co-produced by Syma Mohammed and Robert Ouyang Rusli with music by Robert Ouyang Rusli.

This is the first originally produced episode of AAWW Radio that is not edited from archived audio from our live events. If you like what you hear, please consider supporting AAWW with a donation to help us continue producing new podcast episodes.


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Learn more about Kashmir’s history and why the ongoing struggle for self-determination and liberation is just as critical today as it was more than 70 years ago.

Stand With Kashmir has compiled resources on their website. Here’s a snapshot of where to begin:

Ten non-fiction and fiction books to read about Kashmir
13 films to watch on Kashmir
The Kashmir Syllabus: this list of material for teaching and learning about Kashmir foregrounds voices, histories, and aspirations of people from and within Kashmir.
Wande Magazine, an online magazine of longform writing run by young Kashmiris:
– Ather Zia’s ethnography Resisting Disappearance: Military Occupation and Women’s Activism in Kashmir (2019) which was discussed in the podcast and follows mothers and “half-widows” as they step boldly into courts, military camps, and morgues in search of their disappeared kin.
– Ather Zia’s and Javaid Iqbal Bhat’s A Desolation Called Peace: Voices from Kashmir (2019) about the political aspirations of the people of Kashmir and the change in their perceptions since Independence.
Kashmir Lit, an online journal of Kashmiri & Diasporic Writing


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