No Woman's Land

Tulika's new book, Islam, Women, and Violence in Kashmir: Between India and Pakistan brought to mind an older title from Women Unlimited, No Woman's Land. While the earlier book was an " unusual mix of memoirs, interviews, reminiscences and reflective essays", in this new book, Nyla Ali Khan, Associate Professor in the Department of English at University of Nebraska-Kearney writes on being caught in the middle. Of women, Muslims, and victims of the decades-long conflicts.

Describing the book in her preface, the author says "I have chosen to deploy oral evidence in my book, which has allowed me to approach events, notions, and literatures about which there was meager evidence from other sources. The use of oral history has empowered my interviewees/correspondents, people of J & K, in significant ways, bringing acknowledgment of hitherto disregarded opinions and experiences. In some instances, I have taken the liberty of reproducing e-mail responses, which I received from my interviewees, verbatim. I was keen on providing personal reminiscences from participants about landmark events without mediating between oral evidence/historiography and more elitist versions of history. My primary goal is to ensure that future generations of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir don't forget because if we stop remembering, we stop being."

Khan is the grand-daughter of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, the first Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir. and is thus uniquely placed to write such a book. In a review, Agha Ashraf Ali says "Probably the first time a Kashmiri women rises above herself and her unfortunately limited role (particularly in these last two decades of violence, destruction and mayhem) and attempts to voice her opinion so emphatically. You will come to clearly understand through Nyla Khan’s instructive style that a journey into Kashmir symbolizes a strange exaltation that is an undefinable quest but, like a torrential rainstorm, both cleansing and destructive.

And in Ashish Nandy's analysis “… Sadly, Kashmir has been captive, during the past sixty years, in the making of the myths of origin of India and Pakistan. Even more sadly, it now seems unable to resist the birth of a new creation myth of its own, which promises to replicate the efforts of its tormentors faithfully. Once a community experiences the trauma of state-formation at its expense, its capacity to envision a different kind of political arrangement weakens. Happily, the myth may not have yet gelled in Kashmir. This is where Nyla Ali Khan comes in.…

In our Gender section, in paperback, 200 pages. Rs 395, ISBN: 9788189487577.