The Baltistan Movement and the Power of Pop Ghazals

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This paper investigates the role of locally produced pop-ghazal music in the politics of the people of Baltistan, a community living in the western Himalayas on both sides of the border between Indian and Pakistan and characterized by its blend of Shi’ite and Tibetan culture as well as its vernacular Tibetan dialect. The pop-ghazals conjures up an alternative narrative of local history and belonging that is situated in a Himalayan rather than South Asian context. Pop-ghazals are emblematic for local resistance against the post-colonial nationalism of the Indian and Pakistani nation states and at the core of the Baltistan Movement, a Western Himalayan social movement emerging in the past two decades. The analytical perspective is a continuation of Manuel’s (1993) work on the cassette culture of northern India exploring the political power of the pop-ghazal further by drawing from Scott’s (1990) concept of hidden/public transcript and Smelser’s (1968) social strain model of the dynamics of social change.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-57
JournalAsian Ethnology
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Social Work


  • Himalaya
  • Pakistan
  • India
  • Baltistan
  • Baltistan Movement
  • social movement
  • hidden transcript
  • Ladakh
  • cassette culture
  • social strain
  • Kargil
  • Skardu


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