Kashmir's Contested Pasts is a longue duree history of the historical imagination in Kashmir. It explores the articulation, within Kashmir's multilingual historical tradition, of the idea of Kashmir and the idea of history in conversation with each other. Contrary to the notion that the Indian subcontinent did not produce histories in the pre-colonial period, the book uncovers the production, circulation, and consumption of a vibrant regional tradition of historical composition in its textual, oral, and performance forms from the late sixteenth century to the present.
Analyzing the deep linkages amongst Sanskrit, Persian, and Kashmiri narratives the book contends that these traditions drew on and informed each other to define Kashmir as a sacred landscape and polity. It argues that within this interconnected narrative tradition, Kashmir was, and continues to be, imagined as far more than simply an embattled territory or a tourist paradise.
History and history writing, the book further illustrates, were defined in multiple ways - as tradition, facts, memories, stories, common sense, and spiritual practice. The book thus offers a historically grounded reflection on the memories, narrative practices, and institutional contexts that have informed imaginings of Kashmir and its past, and explores the challenges posed to these ideas in Kashmiri political culture today.