Azadi activists abroad: transnational activism in the New Kashmiri Freedom Movement
Spencer, Dustie Marie
The Kashmir movement for azadi, or freedom, from India is rooted in pre-Partition mobilisation, but has evolved over time. With the end to the violent resistance throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, a predominately nonviolent resistance has taken hold. The azadi movement has been redefined by predominately young activists with Kashmiri roots who have adopted strategies of other ‘new’ transnational social movements. This has broadened the support base from ethnic Kashmiris to include a demographically diverse range of activists and extends the framing of the conflict from identitarian-based to human rights-based. Drawing upon Kashmir Studies literature and social movements literature, this thesis recontextualizes identitarian motivations for the azadi movement. A combined theoretical framework aims to better understand how identity influences the movement and how transnational movements influence identity. This is best demonstrated through social movements framing processes. Work with Kashmir Solidarity Movement (KSM) in the United Kingdom through participant observation, qualitative interviewing, and analysis of online social media corresponding to the groups has led to a better understanding of how identity motivates participants to support an independent Kashmir. In-group activists, or those with a direct stake in the conflict are motivated primarily by an affiliation to Kashmir; however, out-group activists are primarily motivated by identifying themselves as having some non-ethnic bond to Kashmir, such as being a part of a self-perceived minority group or active in a cause or campaign that challenges existing power structures. Legal advocates, activists, and academics have worked in tandem to raise awareness for the Kashmir conflict and recommend solutions. Using a rights-based discourse, activists frame independence as the only means for achieving justice for abuses and reclaiming agency.