Kashmir: tormented state and global flashpoint

Until this year, the state of Jammu and Kashmir nominally enjoyed special autonomy under the Indian Constitution. However, as the only state in India with a Muslim-majority population, it has nonetheless been the subject of constant friction amongst India, Pakistan, and China.

Following the Indo-Pakistani war of 1947-48, India administered major parts of the disputed territory, but turbulent relations between India and Pakistan have resulted in intermittent conflict, and the area has seen prolonged and bloody strife between India and many Kashmiris resisting Indian rule, resulting in horrific human rights abuses, including torture, enforced disappearance, extra-judicial killings, rape, massacre, and pillage.

In early August 2019, the Indian Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led government passed resolutions to bifurcate the territory, and end both the autonomy as well as the statehood, and bring Jammu and Kashmir under the direct rule of Delhi. A lockdown was imposed in the region, the internet and phone services were blocked, and political leaders were put under house arrest, and there has been no let-up in this since early August. This has gravely escalated tension, both in Kashmir, and between the two nuclear powers of Pakistan and India, with serious international implications.

Nitasha Kaulwill discuss this alarming situation with us. She is a Kashmiri academic, economist, novelist and poet, and has spoken and published widely on varied themes including social theory, democracy, and postcolonial critique, with particular focus on Bhutan and Kashmir. She has held teaching posts in many international universities, and is currently Associate Professor in Politics and International Relations at the University of Westminster

Her work over the last two decades is linked on the cv page of her website.

2nd December 2019


The French Insurgency: What is the significance of the Gilets Jaunes?

The ‘Yellow Vests’ or ‘Gilets Jaunes’ are a movement of protest in France that since it started in November 2018 has operated outside the framework of political parties and trade-union organisation and has shaken the political establishment. It has brought together waged workers, the self-employed and other popular strata in a protest against the state and has highlighted the injustices and exploitation of French society. Surprisingly it has maintained high levels of popular support throughout months of confrontation with the state, in spite of escalating levels of police repression and it has succeeded in extracting concessions from the government. However, this movement appears as inherently contradictory. Some of its demands and its discourses  seem to have elements of the programme of the far-right (nationalism, belief in conspiracy theories and anti-migrant feelings) as well as an emphasis on justice and redistribution of wealth associated with the left.

Dr Stathis Kouvelakis is a Reader in Political theory in the Department of French at Kings College, London. In his research interests he specialises in Marx’s political thought, contemporary French politics and the history of social protest in France. His recent publications include an article in the New Left Review: The French insurgency: Political Economy of The Gilets Jaunes.(110/ May 2019).  He will look at the background to the ‘Gilets Jaunes’ protest,  the key elements of their programme and  their impact on the French political system and the Macron government.

18th November 2019