Expression of a Culture of Resistance through Images: Kashmiri Freedom Activists in the UK

    • Cover Photo
    • Presentation speakers
      • Dustie Spencer, University of Edinburgh, UK


    Kashmiris, among other populations, have a history of using resistance imagery which reflects defiance against a perceive occupier. These images come both from Indian Administered Kashmir as well as a transient community of Kashmiris (and their non-Kashmiri supporters) in the United Kingdom. Something about these images remains uniquely Kashmiri, but they are influenced by a more universal conception of symbols which are widely recognized in many other social movements, particularly those movements which challenge occupation. Images of raised fists, unarmed youths throwing stones, graffiti art defaming authority, and pictures of deceased martyrs flood social media pages and protest rallies on placards and fliers. These images, so pervasive among those in support of self-determination movements contribute to what may be called a ‘culture of resistance,’ or otherwise conceived of as contributing to the creation of an identity of resistance. Part of a PhD project which focused on Kashmir activists organising abroad, this paper focuses less on the specific grievances of freedom activists which can contribute to rational choice actions to protest and more on how images influence the discourse surrounding resistance which act as more subjective calls to action. Although discursive framings of grievances can contribute to mobilising people to move ‘from the balcony to the barricades’ (Benford and Snow 2000 among others), the omnipresence of social media has offered visual cues which resonate with activists, perhaps in a much more impressive way than discourse alone. I argue that these images have a significant impact on contributing to resistance identities and can motivate empathy for a cause as well as action.