Zutshi, Chitralekha 1972-
Zutshi, Chitralekha 1972-
Born December 7, 1972. Education: Tufts University, Ph.D., 2000.
Academic and historian. College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA, associate professor of history. National Endowment for the Humanities fellow, 2005-06; John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress, Kluge fellow, 2008.
Chitralekha Zutshi is an academic and historian. Born on December 7, 1972, she earned a Ph.D. from Tufts University in 2000. Zutshi eventually became an associate professor of history at Williamsburg, Virginia's College of William and Mary. From 2005 to 2006 she served as a National Endowment for the Humanities fellow. Zutshi also served as a Kluge fellow in 2008 at the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress.
Zutshi published her first book, Languages of Belonging: Islam, Regional Identity, and the Making of Kashmir, in 2004. The book focuses on literary records of the Kashmiri people throughout the recent past to analyze their views on self-identity, nationhood, religion and sense of place.
Pankaj Mishra, reviewing the book in the New Statesman, said that "Zutshi uncovers the many ways and contexts in which Kashmiri Muslims expressed their regional and religious identity during the decades leading up to 1947…. In the process, she brings to light a variety of literary and political texts. The Muslims of early modern Kashmir, who have remained an obscure mass of victims, emerge as sensitive observers and active makers of their destiny." Mishra pondered that "not much is known about the Kashmiris themselves. Who are they? What do they want?" Mishra conceded, however, that Languages of Belonging provides "the fullest answers yet to such questions … by resisting the modern ideologies of secularism and nationalism, which are arguably more potent than any religious fundamentalism in south Asia."
Yoginder Sikand, writing in Himal magazine, commented that "understanding the roots of the Kashmiri movement requires one to take a historical perspective, examining the changing contours of Kashmiri identity over time. This is precisely what author Chitralekha Zutshi sets out to do in this well-researched book." Sikand also gathered that "the movement for self-determination of the Kashmiris entered a new stage in the 1930s, with the setting up of the All Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference, and then the National Conference. Zutshi critically examines the politics of these two groups and the differing agendas that they proposed, looking particularly at their different understandings of Islam and Kashmiri identity." Reza Pirbhai, reviewing the book in the Historian, found that "Zutshi's thesis expands the level of understanding as yet afforded Kashmir." Pirbhai noted that "although presenting political economy with clarity, Zutshi's handling of representatives from various schools of Islamic thought can be confusing." Nevertheless Pirbhai concluded that Languages of Belonging is "successful in thoroughly illustrating" the various sides to the Kashmiri conflict, in part due to "deftly handling archival and published material in three regional languages" to get a balanced perspective from all parties involved.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Asian Affairs, July 1, 2005, Vernon Hewitt, review of Languages of Belonging: Islam, Regional Identity, and the Making of Kashmir, p. 235.
Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, March 1, 2005, D.L. White, review of Languages of Belonging, p. 1283.
Commonwealth & Comparative Politics, November 1, 2005, Vernon Hewitt, review of Languages of Belonging, p. 431.
Himal, May, 2004, Yoginder Sikand, review of Languages of Belonging.
Historian, summer, 2006, Reza Pirbhai, review of Languages of Belonging, p. 374.
New Statesman, August 30, 2004, Pankaj Mishra, review of Languages of Belonging.
College of William and Mary, Department of History Web site,http://www.wm.edu/history/ (May 22, 2008), author profile.