Current Institutional Affiliation
Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow, Anthropology, University of California / Irvine

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2016
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, University of Michigan
Finance in Uncertain Times: Debt and Sovereignty in Kashmir

My dissertation research examines the rise of new forms of financial risk and indebtedness within the context of ongoing political conflict and uncertainty in contemporary Kashmir, the disputed border area between India and Pakistan. At a time when Kashmir is seen as 'normalizing' following more than two decades of political insurgency, I seek to understand how such 'normalization' is underpinned and made possible by everyday financial exchange and practice. The primary sites of investigation will be the main branch of the Jammu & Kashmir Bank as well as its headquarters in Srinagar, the District Debt Court, the homes and businesses of borrowers and defaulters, and the offices of central banking officials and financial policy experts in New Delhi. Through twelve months of ethnographic fieldwork, the project will ask three central questions: 1) How has the ongoing political conflict, and the uncertainties and risks it has produced, transformed Kashmiris' engagement with economic and legal practices? 2) What does studying sites of banking, finance, and default litigation—and the technologies that mediate them—reveal about how Kashmiris experience and conceptualize trust, risk, obligation, as well as the region's financial future and its sovereignty? 3) In what ways do the state, the judicial system, and the financial policy sector in Kashmir and in India invest in the political and economic 'normalization' of Kashmir? The primary methods I will use include long-term participant observation, structured and semi-structured interviewing, sociolinguistic analysis of institutional interactions, documentation of technological interface, and textual analysis of financial policy documents. Through attention to the scalar and quotidian experience of finance, I seek to deepen understandings of the relationship between finance, political conflict, and sovereignty.