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Identity, its constructions and the dynamics of its changes have been a matter of multiple engagements and debates. One such view that of Fredrick Barth has been quite impactful. Barth, in his famous introduction to his edited work ‘Ethnic Groups and Boundaries: The Social Organization of Culture’ suggests that the ‘interface and interaction between different groups is an important aspect in identity formation. Identities try to accommodate to different ‘’ecological factors’’ around it, producing difference within an identity.’ The paper attempts to understand the construction of Kashmiri Muslim identity through such a view. Kashmir dispute received attention last year after the killing of Hizb – ul – Mujahideen commander, Burhan Wani. The question of ‘’identity’’ of the Kashmiri Muslims was invoked in various analysis of the turmoil that followed the killing. Academics, scholars and commentators argued that the ‘Kashmiri Muslim Identity,’ has now acquired a fundamental and homogenous Islamic character, in contrast to the earlier idea of a secular – Sufi ‘Kashmiriyat’. The extremist and violent nature of protests is being explained as a corollary to such a shift. This paper looks to investigate and understand such ‘historical constructions’ of Kashmiri Muslim Identity. Employing Barth’s framework, it is attempted to analyze the constructions of Kashmiri Muslim identity through its interaction with the ‘political ecology’ around it – the States of India and Pakistan. An attempt has been made to understand the construction of Kashmiri Muslim identity through the prism of changing discourses of nation, nationalism and religion in South Asia (particularly the rise of Hindu Nationalism and Political Islam). In addition to investigating powerful influences such discourses might exert, the paper also tries to enumerate the ‘boundary’ within which the Kashmiri Muslim identity has been able to develop features, independent of such influences. The paper eventually is an attempt to tie back these explorations in order to critique the present construction and to put forth a holistic understanding of the Kashmiri Muslim identity.  

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Muhammad Mutahhar Amin (India) 13711
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