Militarisation and identity formation : a case study of Kashmir (1989-2018)

  • Fayaz Ahmad Kacho

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis (PhD)


In 1989 an armed insurgency against India began in Kashmir, followed by the heavy militarisation of the region by the Indian state. While the Kashmir conflict can be traced to the 19th century Dogra regime, this thesis has focused on the particular period from 1989 to 2018, centring the people in the valley, that are the worst affected by this protracted conflict, and their perspectives. Using post-colonial and critical feminist theory within the broader methodology of constructivism, I explore this relational engagement between the Indian state and the people of Kashmir, by focusing on processes and representational practices to understand the Kashmir dispute. In doing so, I move away from the dominant discourse on the Kashmir conflict as an inter-state dispute and focus instead on the intra-state aspects of the dispute.

Using ethnographic data comprising interviews of Kashmiri civil society members, academics, former militants, journalists, and survivors of state violence, alongside resistance artworks, citizens’ and newspaper reports, my research has three major findings:

1) The processes of engagement between social groups are the key sites of collective identity formation.  The Indian state’s dominant process of engagement with the people in Kashmir since 1989 has been through militarisation, to the extent that even non-militaristic institutions and processes like the judiciary, peace dialogues, and elections are subordinated to this militaristic approach.

2) Key to sustaining the militarisation of Kashmir is militarism pervading Indian society through nationalistic discourses that are rooted in deified and demonised representations of Kashmir land and Kashmiri people respectively.

3) Despite pervasive state control and surveillance, Kashmiris have broken through state dominance, particularly through creative ways of resistance that include mass protests, writings and artistic works. Voiced directly by the people, these counter-memories and counter-narratives centre the political dimension of the Kashmir conflict and perceive the people of Kashmir as the principal party to the dispute.

Overall, my novel approach provides a fresh and innovative perspective to the Kashmir dispute, that brings the civilian narrative to the forefront while analysing the conflict.
Date of Award14 Jun 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of St Andrews
SupervisorChris Ogden (Supervisor) & Diego Muro Ruiz (Supervisor)


  • Militarism
  • Identity and identity politics
  • Post-colonialism and critical feminism
  • Kashmir
  • Insurgency and counter-insurgency
  • Power
  • Counter-memory, representational practices and agency
  • Ethnography

Access Status

  • Full text embargoed until
  • 22 April 2027

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