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Sense of Identity and Community: A Case Study of Kashmiri Diaspora Abroad

Zahid Hussain

Department of Political Science
Jamia Millia Islamia
New Delhi – 110 025

“Each of us seeks to know our personal identity and where and how we fit into the scheme of things so that we can make sense of our lives and plan for the future…”

[Zarina Patel, a young Kenyan (‘Who Am I?’, Daily Nation, Nairobi, March 28, 2000)]


Identity and community are an indispensable part of the social existence. There is nothing like an atomized individual with no social moorings. Wittingly or unwittingly, individuals identify themselves with a larger social whole called community. There are several bases of similarity on which they identify themselves like language, culture, and most importantly the awareness of these similarities. This self-identity gives rise to a feeling of community and rootedness and is transferred from one generation to another through socialisation. This paper argues that when an individual or a group of individuals migrate from their region to another, the identity is not lost inevitably, but the sense of identity and community prevails, and is consciously kept intact to remain socially anchored with their parent community. The feeling of oneness with their own community is necessary to insure their social and psychological stability. This paper makes a case study of Kashmiri diaspora world-over to bring home the conclusion that ethnic identities of an individual are rigidified in the settings that are different from the community that one belongs to. Community feeling and identity are the traits that don’t dissolve in a culturally and socially different setting.

Key words: Identity; Community; Diaspora; Kashmir; Kashmiri; Ethnicity; Culture.

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