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Intimate Geopolitics: Religion, Marriage, and Reproductive Bodies in Leh, Ladakh

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Bodies not only are territory but also make territory. Recent scholarship interrogates the utility of hierarchical scale, attends to everyday practice and geopolitical strategy, and thinks through geographies of religion in terms of intersectionality and embodiedness. I build on these developments by reading them through the lens of territory and territoriality to explore how babies and reproductive bodies are caught up in geopolitical projects and religious narratives in the Leh district of India's contested Jammu and Kashmir State (J&K). J&K's Ladakh region has experienced the politicization of religious identity over the course of the twentieth century, culminating in the Buddhist majority's social boycott of Ladakhi Muslims and the subsequent territorialization of marriage and reproduction as sites of geopolitical possibility. This research explores the territorial logic manifest in a pronatal campaign and a ban on religious intermarriage, as well as the ways that people respond to this logic. The research draws on seventeen months of fieldwork conducted between 2004 and 2010, including a survey and interviews, as well as two oral history and photography projects with Ladakhi youth.

Keywords: Asia del Sur; Jammu and Kashmir; Jammu y Kashemira; South Asia; feminist political geography; geografía política feminista; religion and conflict; religión y conflicto; territorio; territory

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Geography,University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,

Publication date: November 1, 2012


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