Saiba Varma

Grant Type

Post PhD Research Grant

Institutional Affiliation

California, San Diego, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9373

Approve Date

October 7, 2016

Project Title

Varma, Dr. Saiba, U. of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA - To aid research on 'Occupied Health Systems: Medicine, Hospitals and Politics in Kashmir'

SAIBA VARMA, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California, was awarded a grant in October 2016 to aid research on ‘Occupied Health Systems: Medicine, Hospitals and Politics in Kashmir.’ Fieldwork at public health institutions in India and Pakistan-controlled Kashmir shows medical institutions, medical professionals, and patients in health settings as being severely impacted and constrained by the effects of political instability and conflict. In Indian-controlled Kashmir, during the summer of 2016, one of the state’s main public health institutions was turned into a direct and indirect theater of state violence; medical professionals and ambulances were attacked, threatened, and injured protestors receiving treatment placed under police surveillance. In Pakistan-controlled Gilgit-Baltistan, government hospitals remain the setting for instabilities and crises of diverse orders, which impact the ways that providers manage patients, and patients interpret treatment processes and their outcomes, especially when care is provided across lines of sectarian affiliation. In both field-sites, the social and political complexities entangled with medical services impinged on and degraded the quality of care, even leading to rumours of the states’ necropolitical impulses. Notwithstanding these complications and crises, medical professionals and patients developed innovative and creative ways to provide and receiving care. This research reveals Kashmir’s clinical and public health settings to be paradigmatic sites in which fraught forms of governance and contentious citizen-state relations both play out and are contested.