Sarbani Sharma (Tübingen)

Multiplicities of Water in a Militarized Zone

Eventalizing Floods in Occupied Territory

The Jammu and Kashmir dispute is one of the oldest political disputes in South Asia. As a researcher, one continuously oscillates between time in which Indian and Pakistani state discuss the 'Kashmir dispute' and the real time of living a life through the interminable violence in Kashmir. While the contestations over linear narration of history or debates on authenticity of historical events to explain the contemporary Kashmir has been much discussed, not much has been theorised about how intersection of violence, regional water networks and environmental disasters emerge and are experienced by people in contemporary Kashmir. In this paper, I engage with the event of 2014 floods in Kashmir valley that had devastating impact on life and business in the valley.

In the past 30 years of armed conflict, armed forces have occupied several acres of agricultural land as well as flood channels along the water bodies of Kashmir to fortify armed forces camps and security infrastructure of the state leading to changes in the flow and materialities of these water bodies. This military and security infrastructure is accompanied by illegal corporate land grabs and unplanned urbanization in high altitude locations like Kashmir. It is in this pursuit that I attend to understand- the living of a life in Kashmir when, apart from the recurrent social, economic and political violence events that caricatures the social of Kashmir, how experiences and imagination of 'multiple waters' in an unanticipated environmental disaster folds into the other interminable events of crisis.

Based on my ethnographic encounter with the 2014 Kashmir floods, in this project I describe how contrary to inherent form of water as a liquid, the devasting floods in Kashmir was experienced through the 'different' waters that entered peoples' home and devastated their homes and business. Understanding the vignettes of 'multiple waters' through the perspective of class, materiality of water and effects of militarism and climate change can help us comprehend what is anthropologically arrived at when we (re)eventalize a singular event of a man-made environmental disaster. I ask, what epistemological questions can be addressed to when we attempt to '(re) eventalize' an event of flood and unravel the consequences of peoples' experience of 'multiple waters' in a flood?