The Politics of “Post-conflict”: On the Ground in South Asia

The last decade has marked the purported end of several conflicts in South Asia: the 2003 ceasefire along the Indo–Pak border in Jammu and Kashmir, the 2006 Comprehensive Peace Agreement ending the civil war between Maoist insurgents and state forces in Nepal, the 2009 LTTE defeat in Sri Lanka, and the imminent withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan. This Hot Spots series explores the implications of “post-conflict” as an analytical and political category by situating recent South Asian experiences within broader anthropological debates over social, political, and economic transformation. As anthropologists, we go beyond the evaluative assessments of peace-building and human-rights reports to reveal the complexities of life and politics in the gray areas between war and peace. In so doing, these essays acknowledge the everyday effects of the post-conflict label beyond the technocratic mechanisms that seek to define it and declare resolution, yielding important insights for policymakers and development actors, as well as scholars from a range of policy-engaged disciplines. We invite you to join the conversation.

Two brief introductory essays frame the collection. The first, “Framing the Issues: The Politics of Post-conflict,” provides a contextual overview of how the post-conflict term developed, the term’s undergirding categorical assumptions, and its resulting limitations. The second essay, “Situating Political Transformation in South Asia,” provides a brief overview of each conflict, highlighting the key sociopolitical events and historical moments that the essays in this forum reference. These two pieces are followed by twelve essays grouped into four sections by area:

  • Afghanistan: Noah Coburn, Anila Daulatzai
  • Kashmir: Mona Bhan, Cabeiri Robinson, Saiba Varma
  • Nepal: Heather Hindman, Dan Hirslund, Lauren Leve, Sarah Shepherd-Manandhar
  • Sri Lanka: Vivian Choi, Thushara Hewage, Dhana Hughes 

We’ve also provided an area-specific list of suggested reading in the literature—from scholarly, policy, and media domains—that has influenced the authors’ analysis.

Posts in This Series

Framing the Issues: The Politics of “Post-conflict”

Situating Political Transformation in South Asia

Conflict, Post-conflict, Pre-conflict: Afghan Fears about 2014

What Comes after the After? Notes on a "Post-conflict" Afghanistan

“Aryan Valley” and the Politics of Race and Religion in Kashmir

The Dangerous Allure of Tourism Promotion as a Post-conflict Policy in Disputed Azad Jammu and Kashmir

Interrogating the “Post-conflict” in Indian-occupied Kashmir

Post-political in the Post-conflict: DIY Capitalism, Anarcho-neoliberalism and Nepal’s Ungovernable Mountains

The Politics of Post-conflict Democratization: Justice and Insurgency after the War

Cruel Optimism, Christianity, and the Post-conflict Optic

Conceptualizing Combatants: The Re-integration of Female Soldiers as a Post-conflict Population

Still War, by Other Means

Ideology, Ethnicity, and the Critique of "Post-conflict" in Sri Lanka

Educated, Unemployed Youth in Postwar Sri Lanka: Saman’s Story

Suggested Readings on Afghanistan, Kashmir, Nepal, and Sri Lanka