It may be a truth not so universally acknowledged that editing a special issue of a journal can often be a nerve-wracking affair. Guest editing a forthcoming special issue for Identities titled 'Archives of Coloniality and Solidarity: Kashmir and Palestine, in medias res', goes beyond this experience. The razored concertina wires, the militarised checkpoints, the open brutality, the violence against the living and the dead, and the permanent warfare against entire populations that characterise the experiences of Palestinians and Kashmiris permeate this special issue. These experiences may not be exceptional to those editors and authors working on state violence and occupations. However, the experience itself must be acknowledged.
Author emails in the summer of 2019 demonstrate the porous ways in which the occupations of Palestine and Kashmir have pervaded this guest editing process.
Two months into the Kashmir siege — a complete communication blackout and a military blockade imposed on the 5th of August by the Indian state — a friend of an author who had visited Kashmir informed us that the author would be sending the paper via pen drive. As we write, 8–9 million people of the Kashmir Valley remain under siege, caged by a million Indian forces. Thousands of civilians including minors have been arbitrarily detained, including politicians, business leaders, clergy, university lecturers and students. Those not under detention face the brunt of India’s army and paramilitary forces who are marauding homes in night raids, molesting women, torturing ordinary people and harassing journalists. India’s political leaders, successors of Nazi-inspired fascism, deem this the new normal in Kashmir.
A co-authored photo essay, due on the 5th of August (the day the siege was imposed), is yet to be submitted. The Palestinian co-author sent us an anxious email about not being able to reach her Kashmiri counterpart: 'She doesn’t have Internet, the situation in Kashmir is very bad right now. I don’t know if we can submit it later'. Her mention of not knowing if they would be able to turn it in at all sums up the uncertainty and the injustice of life under occupation. Their photo essay is about gendered resistance and memory in Kashmir and Palestine. We continue to hope they will be able to submit soon.
For Ather Zia, co-editor of this special issue and a Kashmiri, the siege has been doubly fraught since she was not been able to reach family for a couple of months. The so-called ease on landline restrictions by the end of August was erratic. As we write this blog, only post-paid mobiles have been allowed to function. The Internet remains shut. Speaking and writing about Kashmir is part of the war against the ‘normalcy’ lie of the Indian state.
Scholarship on Palestine and Israeli settler-colonialism continues to proliferate. Yet, authors Nadera Shalhoub Kevorkian and Teodora Todorova illuminate some fresh aspects in this special issue. This summer Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian wrote to us of the incarcerated body of ‘a 14-year old child, Ezareyyeh Nassim Abu Roumi, allegedly accused of stabbing, shot and killed by the police on the 15th of August 2019. Shalhoub-Kevorkian said ‘his body had been withheld by the authorities for over two weeks’. In this special issue, her article extends the necropolitical dimensions of Israeli settler-colonialism to examine its new modes of power through ‘necropenology’, where the dead themselves are captive, on trial, colonising not only death itself but the affective and political space of mourning. Todorova’s article, 'Vulnerability as a politics of decolonial solidarity: the case of the Anarchists Against the Wall', examines the Butlerian concept of vulnerability as a decolonising politics through the expression of solidarity.
The Israeli state was carved through the violence of a settler-colonial project; the Indian state has now set the stage for settler-colonialism in Kashmir, transforming the nature of its colonial relationship with Kashmir that has existed since 1947. Ajit Doval, India’s National Security Advisor, and the architect of the transformation of India’s relationship with Kashmir from that of puppet colonial rule to a settler-colonial one, is credited with the policy of an Israeli-style creation of ‘facts on the ground’ when the facts on the ground do not suit the colonial power. The annexation of Kashmir on the 5th of August has also meant the abrogation of Article 35-A, a clause of the now-revoked Jammu and Kashmir constitution which protected Kashmiri ownership of land. Thus, the threadbare vestiges of Kashmiri autonomy that protected indigenous Kashmiris and their land ownership rights from Indian settler ownership has vanished overnight. Kashmir is now saleable by the colonial state ostensibly for developmental purposes though an old Hindutva vision of a demographic change, or ethnic cleansing, from Kashmiri to non-Kashmiri, from Muslim to Hindu.
While the articles in this forthcoming special issue of Identities were written before the 5th of August military siege of Kashmir, they indicate the ways in which Kashmiris have been living under Indian colonial occupation since Jammu and Kashmir’s Maharajah hurriedly acceded to India in 1947, with the proviso that Kashmiris would one day determine their own future. The complex story of the accession may be gleaned from the essays themselves as from recent scholarly sources. Farrukh Faheem speaks of the difficulty of accessing archives in the context of secrecy and state violence, and comments on the nature of what may be constituted as an archive in an occupied zone. In the article, 'Counter-maps of the ordinary: occupation, subjectivity, and walking under curfew in Kashmir', Mohamad Junaid explores through ethnographic work ‘counter-maps of the ordinary’, or the spatial dimensions of walking and stone-throwing as resistant practices, part of Kashmiri aspiration for freedom.
Kashmiri longing for freedom can be witnessed in their historical solidarity with the Palestinian struggle. Ather Zia’s article (forthcoming) traces the resonant and affective solidarity of Kashmiris for Palestine. In the article, 'Kashmir and Palestine: itineraries of (anti) colonial solidarity', Goldie Osuri examines the historical and contemporary routes of anti-colonial solidarity between India and Palestine (state and non-state), arguing for re-routing this anti-colonial solidarity via Kashmir.
As an archive of coloniality and resistance solidarity in Kashmir and Palestine, this special issue of Identities points to another truth that must be acknowledged. The praxis of ‘decolonial solidarity’, as Todorova has described it, is perhaps all that we can hope for in the face of the current maelstrom of the open barbarity of militarised security states, whether in Palestine or Kashmir or elsewhere.
Blog post by Goldie Osuri, University of Warwick, UK, and Ather Zia, University of Northern Colorado, USA
Read the Identities articles from this special issue:
Junaid, Mohamad. Counter-maps of the ordinary: occupation, subjectivity, and walking under curfew in Kashmir. Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power. DOI: 10.1080/1070289X.2019.1633115
Osuri, Goldie. Kashmir and Palestine: itineraries of (anti) colonial solidarity. Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power. DOI: 10.1080/1070289X.2019.1675334
Todorova, Teodora. Vulnerability as a politics of decolonial solidarity: the case of the Anarchists Against the Wall. Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power. DOI: 10.1080/1070289X.2019.1647663
Read related Identities blog articles:
Decolonial solidarity in Palestine-Israel by Teodora Todorova
Everyday dilemmas of walking under curfew in Kashmir by Mohamad Junaid
I have been researching the activism of Israeli radial leftist movements for a decade now. Travelling to Palestine-Israel throughout the past years, speaking to activists and observing protests prompted me to examine the role of Jewish-Israeli activists in resisting the occupation and colonisation of Palestine. My empirical research on the Anarchists Against the Wall contributes to a growing body of activist-scholarship which highlights the emergence and consolidation of decolonial co-resistance (as opposed to the accommodative notion of co-existence) as an increasingly important aspect of joint Palestinian and Jewish-Israeli activism since the outbreak of the Second Intifada.
In 2003 during the Second Intifada Israel made a unilateral decision to build a wall beyond the Green Line in response to Palestinian militancy in order to protect Israeli civilians from political violence. The separation wall was built largely on Palestinian land, circling and incorporating the illegal Israeli settlements into Israel-proper, directly undermining the borders of the two-state solution. The building of the wall promoted widespread Palestinian resistance including weekly Friday demonstrations in the villages affected by the wall, raising international awareness, petitioning the Israeli High Court against village land confiscations and petitioning the International Court of Justice which ruled the wall’s construction in violation of international law in 2004. In many respects, the Palestinian struggle against the wall is a continuation of the Palestinians’ long-established tradition of non-violent resistance and civil disobedience against the Occupation.
Alongside local Palestinian resistance and international solidarity activism against the wall, the Jewish-Israeli anarchists emerged as a significant group. Their activism bears a close resemblance to the activities of the International Solidarity Movement, including attending the protests against the wall in order to discourage military violence against the Palestinians, as well as using their privileged status as Jewish-Israeli citizens to travel abroad to raise awareness of the struggle (an activity that is practically impossible for many Palestinian activists who are often denied the right to travel by Israel). In attempting to distinguish themselves from their international counterparts, Israeli activists argued that their activism cannot be reduced to straightforward solidarity because the Occupation negatively impacts Palestinians and Israelis alike. Palestinians on their end argued that this position draws problematic crude equivalences between the colonised and the coloniser, and the occupied and the occupier.
Drawing on nearly two decades of archival material, including academic, activist and media interviews with, and accounts of, the Anarchists Against the Wall, my Identities article, 'Vulnerability as a politics of decolonial solidarity: the case of the Anarchists Against the Wall', discusses how Palestinian critiques of Jewish-Israeli structural privilege resulted in the transformation of these activists’ discourses and practices. These critiques have driven the Israeli activists to reflect on, confront and face their privileged structural position as settlers. This involves an acknowledgement that their privilege is premised on the settler-colonial dispossession of the Palestinians. This acknowledgement prompted the emergence of an ethic that I call 'decolonial solidarity.' Decolonial solidarity is premised on an explicit rejection of the settler-colonial framing of the indigenous Palestinians as a threat, and the adoption of a practice of human shielding (whereby Israeli activists use their bodies to protect Palestinians) which uses vulnerability to injury as a tool for protection against settler-colonial violence. Paradoxically, the use of settler-privilege to protect Palestinian lives reinforces the existing settler-colonial racial hierarchies of whose life matters.
Put differently, the use of privilege can enshrine privilege while seeking to dismantle it. This constitutes a significant obstacle for decolonial activism and for the possibilities of meaningful co-resistance and decolonisation in Palestine-Israel.
Blog post by Teodora Todorova, University of Warwick, UK
Read the full article: Todorova, Teodora. Vulnerability as a politics of decolonial solidarity: the case of the Anarchists Against the Wall. Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power. DOI: 10.1080/1070289X.2019.1647663