South Asia

Organized Panel Session

1 - Living in a State of Exception—Chitti Singhpora’s Sikhs After the 2000 Massacre

Friday, July 6
12:10 PM - 1:40 PM
Location: Casuarina, Lower Ground Floor

Critical geographers conceive space as a discursive entity produced through contest and negotiation between groups as opposed to being a mere physical container of experiences. This research examines how political violence affects the meanings associated with space, and consequently notions of belonging in its aftermath.


The third largest minority in Kashmir, Sikhs have lived in the state by some accounts since the sojourns of the first Sikh guru, Nanak, in Kashmir. Their centuries of residence in Kashmir faced a serious challenge with the Chitti Singhpora massacre of 2000, in which 34 Sikh men were lined up against a gurudwara in this remote rural village in Anantnag district, only to be executed to death later. Although no one knows who orchestrated the violence, the logic of political violence dictates that the community should have fled Chitti Singhpora in search of safer havens. Yet, the 200 Sikh families of this village never left.


Using ethnography, archival research and geospatial mapping, I question the presence of the community that still remained rooted in Kashmir despite the violence. Drawing on theoretical frameworks from political geography, political science, and sociology, I investigate how amid a space etched with the memory of violence, the Sikhs rebuilt peaceful relations with their Muslim neighbors. Lastly, combining ethnographic fieldwork with spatial data from the Indian Census, I examine how violence altered ‘spatial’ representations of Chitti Singhpora and consequently meanings of being Sikh in its aftermath, and the implications of these altered representations for the community's continued rootedness in Chitti Singhpora.

Khusdeep Malhotra

Temple University, United States

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1 - Living in a State of Exception—Chitti Singhpora’s Sikhs After the 2000 Massacre



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