Zunaira Komal

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

California, Davis, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 10011

Approve Date

August 26, 2020

Project Title

Komal, Zunaira (California, Davis, U. of) "The Psychiatric Life of Azad Kashmir: Healing, Liberation and Islam"

In 2005, after an earthquake, Pakistani military psychiatrists and international mental health workers conducted “psychiatric first aid” workshops in the Pakistan-controlled territory Azad Kashmir. The workshops aimed to train local Islamic healers to recognize “Major Mental Disorders” and reroute patients to psychiatric facilities in the region. Islamic healers, however, intimately intersect with a network of care provided by militants in the region who are fighting an armed resistance movement for Kashmir’s liberation. I hypothesize that military psychiatrists’ attempts to provide rehabilitation for Kashmiris is mediated by Islamic healers and fighters revealing how psychiatry has become key site of contestation for various actors as they (re)define what constitutes suffering. This project is simultaneously an ethnographic investigation of modern transnational psychiatric care, as well as how Islamic healing and fighting practices engage and transform the object of psychiatry. In this sense, this research will account for how state-building is tied up with care and cure, and how Islam functions as an important mediating force for both. I build on several literatures while arguing that Azad Kashmir is a unique site to think about transnational concerns pertaining to war, state-building as well as what it means to suffer, to heal or to resist.