Aditi Saraf

I interned with Aman during June-July 2009 in order to conduct research in Srinagar on the figure of the Muslim ‘half-widow’ in Kashmir to see how she fits into existing discourses of gender, community and the state.  The term half-widow refers to women whose husbands have disappeared, in the context of the ongoing conflict, but have not been confirmed dead.

I am currently enrolled as a graduate student at the Department of Anthropology at Johns Hopkins University, USA, and the purpose of the study was to undertake preliminary research designed to generate further questions for my future dissertation project. My investigations were conducted along the following lines of inquiry: a) the emergence of "half-widows" as a category of citizens claiming accountability and welfare provisions from the state b) whether narratives of heroism, commemoration and community identity cohere in the figure of the half-widow c) what modes of reintegration of half-widows may be devised by kinship networks/ local communities d) collect personal narratives of half-widows to see how they stich together the domestic and establish knowledge and strategies for coping with chronic domestic disruption.

As an intern with AMAN, I was able to access their library and documentation facilities as well as engage the civil activist network in Srinagar. AMAN’s Delhi office put me in touch with Mr. Sajjad Hussain, the head of their health centre in Loalpara village, Baramulla district, who in many ways became the mainstay of my research activity. With his support in Srinagar, I gathered information by building an archive of public documents and conducting open ended, semi-structured interviews with civil rights activists, government officials, lawyers, journalists, community leaders and half widows. My association with AMAN was instrumental in helping me establish contact with resource persons in Srinagar and obtain relevant literature on the long term implications of the conflict in Kashmir. I look forward to working with them in the future.

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