How Religious-cultural Ideas from West Asia impact Politics in South Asia: A Trans-regional Study
Anahita Mir
FREEDOM IN CAPTIVITY: NEGOTIATIONS OF BELONGING ALONG KASHMIR’S FRONTIER by Radhika Gupta Cambridge University Press, 2022, 232 pp., 1195.00
June 2023, volume 47, No 6

Britain’s botched cartographic endeavour to partition the Indian subcontinent not only left behind a legacy of bloodshed but also people who, till now, are trying to fit into the larger picture of ‘India’. Freedom in Captivity: Negotiations of Belonging along Kashmir’s Frontier by Radhika Gupta tries to explore what meaning belonging, identity, and freedom have for the people in Kargil along the most militarized border of the world. The book’s focus is on the Muslim Shi’a population of Kargil and traces their struggle for recognition of ‘distinct political subjectivity’ and ‘cultural identification’. The book also delves into how people who do not ‘dream of sovereignty’ view the concept of ‘freedom’. It takes a bottom-up approach to studying borderland where the focus is on how dwellers in the region negotiate between the security-centric state apparatus and their everyday life and actively choose not to transgress those borders. Due to political contestations with its neighbours (Pakistan and China), India’s northern border remains tightly controlled and largely functions as a security state. With Kashmir at the centre of conflict and Ladakh being a cultural substitute of Tibet, Kargil has largely been an ignored space in the area.

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