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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Spectacle of a Good-Half Widow: Performing Agency in the Human Rights Movement in Kashmir

Creative Commons 'BY-NC-SA' version 3.0 license

A woman sits in protest at one the busiest intersections in the capital city of Srinagar in the Indian controlled Kashmir. A voluminous scarf covers her hair, body and face, revealing only her eyes. Her gaze is downcast and tearful. In one hand she holds a photograph of a man with a name and date written across it, and in another, she has a placard which says, “Half-widow: Return my disappeared husband”.  The first time one beholds this spectacle, a lot of questions come to mind. Who is this woman, why does she mourn publicly and yet remains hidden? It is also important to ask, what she makes visible and invisible at the same time. What are the political and social circumstances that enable this spectacle? What becomes visible about gender and agency against the backdrop of patriarchy and state violence?  

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