New Books Network

Ather Zia

Resisting Disappearance

Military Occupation and Women’s Activism

University of Washington Press 2019

New Books in AnthropologyNew Books in Gender StudiesNew Books in Islamic StudiesNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in Religion & FaithNew Books in South Asian StudiesNew Books Network October 8, 2019 SherAli Tareen

Ather Zia’s Resisting Disappearance: Military Occupation and Women’s Activism (University of Washington Press, 2019) is a brilliant, bold, and urgent ethnography centered on Kashmiri...

Ather Zia’s Resisting Disappearance: Military Occupation and Women’s Activism (University of Washington Press, 2019) is a brilliant, bold, and urgent ethnography centered on Kashmiri women of the APDP (Association of the Parents of the Disappeared Persons). By combining meticulous historical analysis, ethnographic intimacy, and profound attention to the aspirations and tragedies of everyday life, Zia documents the discursive mechanisms and affective registers through which women of the APDP deploy and enact mourning as a politics of resisting the settler colonial regime of India in Indian Occupied Kashmir, especially its ghastly enforced disappearance of over 10,000 Kashmiris. Lyrically written, this book details and navigates the fascinating as well as courageous strategies of resistance mobilized by members of the APDP, while also sketching a vivid and at many times harrowing picture of Indian state brutalities and conditions of colonial rule that Kashmiris, including women of the APDP, must constantly contend and negotiate. The strength of this book lies in the way it moves seamlessly between crafting intimate individual portraits of resistance, and describing the broader terrain of colonial occupation that informs, shapes, and limits the arc and practice of resistance. In our conversation, we touched on a range of themes including “affective law” and its challenge to modern state sovereignty, gendered choreographies of resistance, military humanitarianism and its insidious operations, archive fever and the politics of mourning, and the interaction of poetry and ethnography. This theoretically sophisticated and politically powerful book marks a groundbreaking moment in the anthropological study of Kashmir and South Asia that will also make an excellent text in undergraduate and graduate seminar on various themes and topics.


SherAli Tareen is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Franklin and Marshall College. His research focuses on Muslim intellectual traditions and debates in early modern and modern South Asia. His academic publications are available here. He can be reached at sherali.tareen@fandm.edu. Listener feedback is most welcome.