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The politics of place, community and recognition among Kashmiri pandit forced migrants in Jammu and Kashmir

Datta, Ankur (2011) The politics of place, community and recognition among Kashmiri pandit forced migrants in Jammu and Kashmir. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Since 1989 the state of Jammu and Kashmir has been the site of conflict between the Indian state and a separatist movement demanding independence. This thesis explores the impact of the conflict on the historically prominent Hindu Pandit minority of Kashmir who were displaced from their homes in the Kashmir valley. Most displaced Pandits have relocated to Jammu and other parts of India following the outbreak of violence. The thesis examines processes of resettlement in the city of Jammu by analysing categories of place, home and settlement. By paying attention to these categories the thesis shows that the migrants express an absence of attachment to Jammu and treat the city as a waiting room. Some migrants desire to return to their old homes while others hope for future opportunities elsewhere. Hence, contrary to life in the present defined by migration there is a desire for rootedness or a stable future in a fixed location. The thesis then explores how the Pandits engage with the Indian nation state through an examination of their political discourse and their relationship with the state welfare regime. The thesis therefore shows that the Pandits continuously affirm their loyalty to the Indian state in order to demand assistance and recognition as loyal citizens. The thesis also explores what it means to be a Kashmiri Pandit after displacement with reference to class, caste, religion and history. The Kashmiri Pandits are a historically prominent upper caste Hindu community who enjoyed high status in Kashmir. Their experience of displacement allows an examination of notions of decline and injustice due to the loss of socio-economic and political status. The Pandit case also demonstrates that socio-economic differentiation influences the ability to rebuild lives after displacement. Those who constitute the well-to-do strata are better placed to successfully rebuild lives while poorer Pandits enjoy fewer opportunities. The thesis however situates them in the context of Jammu where indigent Pandits do not constitute the most depressed sections of the city’s population. On a wider level, the thesis argues that for forced migrants in general, ideas of home and place remain contested and incomplete in spite of having achieved some measure of physical settlement.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2011 Ankur Datta
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
J Political Science > JV Colonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration. International migration
Sets: Departments > Anthropology

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