Aditi Saraf

Grant Type

Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship

Institutional Affiliation

Utrecht, U of

Grant number

Gr. 10384

Approve Date

October 11, 2022

Project Title

Saraf, Aditi (Utrecht, U of) "Frontier Signatures: Trade, Sovereignty and Political Economy in Kashmir"

In 2019, the Indian government revoked the constitutional autonomy granted to Kashmir and brought it under central rule, pushing the enduring occupation and insurgency beyond a lethal threshold. Entering into conversations about disputed borderlands and limits of national integration, my book project, Frontier Signatures, explores historic and contemporary trade networks as a field for tracking collective struggles around sovereignty and citizenship. Through ethnographic and archival study of market practices, and their role in the ongoing movement in Kashmir for self-determination (azadi), I track alternate political identities and attachments forged in distinctive regional histories of overland trade. My research, conducted over 28 months, shows that the mountainous terrain, overlapping political jurisdiction, and channels of provisioning by ethnically diverse merchant networks produced forms of self and sovereign governance at odds with the figure of the nation state. Instead, frontiers remain symbolic sites for crafting alternative definitions of community and belonging, serving as prisms to a past that continues to shape political possibilities and futures in Kashmir’s fraught landscape. Commercial relations, regulatory coercions and market transactions become a vantage for examining livelihoods, social movements, shared histories and potential futures across militarized boundaries.