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Kashmir’s Culture | Nyla Ali Kahn

Dr Nyla Ali Khan Purse Power

Purse Power

Ep. 278 - Dr. Nyla Khan talks to us about her upbringing in Kashmir and her extensive knowledge of Kashmir’s political, cultural, and religious background. She also compares diversity in politics, religion, and culture in places of war and the United States. 

Nyla Ali Khan is a native of Kashmir and a native speaker of the Kashmir language. She is the author of two critically acclaimed books: "The Fiction of Nationality in an Era of Transnationalism," in which she critiques the nostalgic support of subversive elements by the affluent diaspora from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. 

In her second book, "Islam, Women, and Violence in Kashmir: Between India and Pakistan," she examines the seminal spiritual and political role of women in Kashmir, while also highlighting the plight of Kashmir generally as a gnarled bone of contention between India and Pakistan. 

Listen in to learn the importance of self-reflecting as women and start allowing each other to grow. You will also learn the importance of compromising and embracing diversity to repair and build winning cultures.

Key Takeaways:

  • How to overcome political and ideological divides by cultivating the ability to build bridges.
  • How, as a woman, you can offer empathy and compassion in the work you do
  • The importance of compromising and building common ground to solve world problems.
  • How to convert your trauma into strength and transform yourself and your community

"In a society that is traditional, conservative, and patriarchal, women and girls are considered repositories of culture and tradition.”- Dr. Nyla Kahn

In this episode, you will learn:

Nyla describes her upbringing in Kashmir, moving to America, and becoming a writer/ professor [1:42]

She shares her family’s political history and the dynastic nature of politics in Southeast Asia [7:29]

Kashmir’s disputed nature, why it’s a nuclear flashpoint, and its weak democratic practices [12:28]

The vulnerability of women in situations of war and how it’s caused by their “protectors” [17:47]

How the rise of authoritarian governments around the world has led to a lack of diversity [21:10]

The role of women in initiating works of peacebuilding and negotiating to end war [27:18]

The ability of women to empathize with people and have compassion in their work [29:22]

The infiltration of the Taliban in Kashmir and the white-winged fanatical politics [32:41]

Nyla on helping Kashmir’s college students work through their opinions and ideological positions [36:30]

How emancipated women are breaking the ceiling in Kashmir despite the uncertainties [42:12]

The plight of women in Kashmir plus how to build collaboration between US and Afghan women [49:43]

How to improve society and repair cultures by building common ground and embracing diversity [53:38]


Nyla Ali Khan is an adjunct professor at Oklahoma City Community College. She is a former Visiting Professor at the University of Oklahoma, Norman, and a former Associate Professor at the University of Nebraska-Kearney. She is the author of four books, and several articles that focus on the political issues and strife of her homeland, Jammu and Kashmir, India. She is the granddaughter of Sheikh Abdullah.

Her book is now used as a teaching text in several universities because of the growing interest in Kashmir. Most recently Nyla has edited a major anthology, "The Parchment of Kashmir: History, Society, and Polity," which develops an unparalleled understanding of the region's culture, resilience, and fate as a political pawn. Several reviews of the anthology have appeared in academic journals.

Her fourth book, which is a hybrid form of academic memoir and biography, on her maternal grandmother, Begum Akbar Jehan Abdullah, was released in June 2014 and is critically acclaimed as well.

She is a regular contributor to "Red Dirt Report," "Oklahoma," the "Norman Transcript," the "Oklahoma Observer," and the "Edmond Sun."

She visits Kashmir frequently and has recently been active in giving lectures on the subject on Kashmir, reform in electoral politics in South Asia and the United States as well as the role of women in public life in the United States and South Asia at universities in Oregon, Maryland, California, Washington DC, and New York.

Nyla's goal is to engage in reflective action as an educator working with diverse cultural and social groups questioning the exclusivity of cultural nationalism, the erosion of cultural syncretism, the ever-increasing dominance of religious fundamentalism, and the irrational resistance to cultural and linguistic differences.


She's On 3 YouTube Channels!


Donna Miller is the founder and CEO of Purse Power, Let's Share the Journey. Purse Power promotes women-led, women-owned businesses by providing a Google extension that allows everyone who visits your website to locate nearby businesses.

Let's Share the Journey holds calls at 10 AM Central every Friday to learn from national leaders to share expertise, ideas, and support. One week a month features Zoom Room networking. We support Donna's endeavor and have provided the speaker calls in a podcast format. Please join her on Friday mornings! You can register for the calls here.

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