Self-writing in Tral, Kashmir Struggles in Public History

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This article is an engagement with persistent efforts to (re) write history that I encountered in the form of letters, notes, poetry, and sketches given to me by ordinary students I met in the politically troubled region of South Kashmir, many of whom had come to be protestors and stone-pelters. It reflects on these reflexive engagements of students with their own lived histories, and in relation, on what they may suggest for understanding of the historical inscription of self and thought. The essay discusses particularly excerpts from three letters, selected randomly from several written by students in the Tral tehsil in Pulwama district, to attend more closely to relationships evinced between locality, time, and possibilities of (self) writing. Even as they were located in a given historical past, these self-writings were testimonies of personal experiences, interpretations of and struggles with a bitter present, and the looming despair of unresolved futures.

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