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Noted filmmaker Sanjay Kak will be in conversation with Dr Nitasha Kaul about new book Witness / Kashmir 1986-2016 / Nine Photographers. The book brings together more than 200 photographs by a selected group of practitioners. The oldest amongst them was already a working professional in 1986, and the youngest had not turned 20 in 2016.

Photography in Kashmir has emerged as a powerful witness to its troubled present. Over the past 30 years a remarkable generation of photographers has steadily illuminated a little understood period of contemporary life in Kashmir. Rooted in the everyday of photojournalism and stretching away from those limitations, this stunning body of work has challenged the established images of Kashmir — as a beautiful landscape sans people, as an innocent paradise and, more recently, as a paradise beset by mindless violence. 

The accompanying text in the book is by documentary filmmaker Sanjay Kak and draws from conversations with the photographers to bring out the complex relationship that each one of them has with photography, as well as the various ways in which they balance it with their commitment to their own lives and to Kashmir. At once insightful, unsettling and beautiful, the photographs in this book raise profound questions about the place of artistic practice in zones of conflict.

Organisers: Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Westminster (Twitter @DPIRWestminster) and University of Westminster Kashmir Solidarity Society

Book a place

This event is open to all students and staff of the University of Westminster, as well as members of the public. RSVP with 'Witness Kashmir' in the subject header to [email protected]

About the speakers

Sanjay Kak is an independent documentary filmmaker whose recent work reflects his interests in ecology, alternatives and resistance politics. His films include Red Ant Dream (2013) about the persistence of the revolutionary ideal in India, Jashn-e-Azadi (How we celebrate freedom, 2007) about the idea of freedom in Kashmir, Words on Water (2002) about the struggle against the Narmada dams in central India, and In the forest hangs a bridge (1999), about the making of a thousand foot bridge of cane and bamboo in north-east India.

Born in 1958, Sanjay read Economics and Sociology at Delhi University and is a self-taught filmmaker. He writes occasional political commentary and is the editor of Until My Freedom Has Come – The New Intifada in Kashmir (Penguin India 2011, Haymarket Books 2013), and the photobook Witness (Yaarbal, 2017 forthcoming).

Chair Dr Nitasha Kaul is a Kashmiri novelist, academic, poet, economist, and artist. Her novel Residue (Rainlight, 2014), shortlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize, deals with themes of Kashmiri identity, nation-state borders, and absence. Twitter @NitashaKaul


This event is based on the Centre for the Study of Democracy's Post-colonial politics, development and emerging powers research theme. In addition to other issues, this investigates how religion, history, territoriality, political economy, militarisation, democratisation and resistance have contributed to a volatile politics that disconnects states and people. The explicit focus is on engagement with communities and impacting upon public debates around these contentious subjects. Kashmir is one such subject.