The Occupied Clinic

Militarism and Care in Kashmir

Book Pages: 304 Illustrations: 28 illustrations Published: October 2020

Author: Saiba Varma

Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, Asian Studies > South Asia, Medicine and Health > Global Health

In The Occupied Clinic, Saiba Varma explores the psychological, ontological, and political entanglements between medicine and violence in Indian-controlled Kashmir—the world's most densely militarized place. Into a long history of occupations, insurgencies, suppressions, natural disasters, and a crisis of public health infrastructure come interventions in human distress, especially those of doctors and humanitarians, who struggle against an epidemic: more than sixty percent of the civilian population suffers from depression, anxiety, PTSD, or acute stress. Drawing on encounters between medical providers and patients in an array of settings, Varma reveals how colonization is embodied and how overlapping state practices of care and violence create disorienting worlds for doctors and patients alike. Varma shows how occupation creates worlds of disrupted meaning in which clinical life is connected to political disorder, subverting biomedical neutrality, ethics, and processes of care in profound ways. By highlighting the imbrications between humanitarianism and militarism and between care and violence, Varma theorizes care not as a redemptive practice, but as a fraught sphere of action that is never quite what it seems.


The Occupied Clinic situates psychiatry as humanitarian state strategy in Kashmir. Saiba Varma offers us a beautifully crafted ethnography, providing political insight without objectifying the recipients of care as victims or sufferers. She articulates the place of mental health and the nuances and difficulties of everyday psychiatric practice in a state of exception that has come to be normalized over decades of military occupation. The need for such an analysis, at once poignant and nonpolemical, cannot be overstated.” — Kaushik Sunder Rajan, author of Pharmocracy: Value, Politics and Knowledge in Global Biomedicine

The Occupied Clinic is a chilling, thought provoking, and beautifully written work that is likely to garner a great deal of attention for its arguments and intellectual generosity. Saiba Varma's astute and incisive portrayal of life, survival, and care in conditions of occupation is original and valuable.” — Sarah Pinto, author of The Doctor and Mrs. A.: Ethics and Counter-Ethics in an Indian Dream Analysis


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Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Saiba Varma is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, San Diego.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Map  viii
Note on Transliteration  ix
Acknowledgments  xi
Letter to No One  xv
Introduction. Care  1
1. Siege  32
2. A Disturbed Area  67
Interlude. The Disappeared  101
3. Shock  114
4. Debrief  144
5. Gratitude  167
Notes  201
Bibliography  253
Index  273
Sales/Territorial Rights: World exc South Asia

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-1098-2 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-0992-4