Kashmir as Literary Borderland: Landscape and Sacred Pasts in the Kashmiri Historical Tradition

Saturday, January 7, 2012: 12:10 PM
Michigan Room A (Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers)
Chitralekha Zutshi, College of William and Mary
This paper examines the ways in which the interactions among a variety of related literary and historical traditions produced the idea of Kashmir as a sacred space. It focuses primarily on Persian and Kashmiri historical narratives as well as some visual representations of the Kashmiri landscape to highlight the interconnections among multiple traditions—Sanskrit, Persian, and Kashmiri—and regions—Kashmir, Central Asia, Persia, and Hindustan—that went into the creation of Kashmir as an especially blessed landscape. 

The multilingual narrative palimpsest embodying this idea of Kashmir, it argues, points us in the direction of examining Kashmir as a literary borderland, where the interface between diverse imperial and indigenous cultures as well as textual and visual geographies, led to the production of narratives in a variety of genres.  These narratives explicitly linked Kashmir’s sacred past to its landscape, thereby fashioning its cultural and political history through a unique prism.  Thus, the idea of Kashmir as sacred landscape has not only been central to defining the very contours of the region of Kashmir, literally and discursively, but equally significantly, successive rulers of Kashmir—Mughals, Afghans, Sikhs, and Dogras—have interwoven the idea into their own imperial imaginations.

<< Previous Presentation | Next Presentation