Omer_headshot Email: omer.aijazi@utoronto.ca

 

Supervisor: Shauna Butterwick, Department of Educational Studies
Committee Members: Erin Baines, Liu Institute for Global Issues; Pilar Riano-Alcala, School of Social Work

My doctoral research examines social repair amidst vulnerable survivors following large-scale natural disasters. I explore this in the context of two remote Himalayan valleys in Northern Pakistan. The 2010 monsoon floods as well as the 2005 Kashmir and Northern Areas earthquake severely disrupted these valleys, killing large numbers of residents, destroying infrastructure and permanently altering communities and social relations. Using oral history interviews, kitchen-space conversations, participatory photography, reflective journals, walkabouts and other aesthetically engaged ethnographic methods, I attempt to understand the micro processes through which survivors reconcile the fragility of their social and physical worlds, and strive to lead a life of meaning. Drawing on the stories and lived experiences of my research participants, I offer guidance to disaster recovery practitioners and policy makers. My research also reveals the precarious nature of daily life in Pakistan’s mountainous north and the layers of structural violence that condition it.

Prior to returning to academia, I worked as a humanitarian in the 2010 Pakistan emergency flood response. This was a large-scale humanitarian crisis affecting some 20 million Pakistanis and submerging nearly 1/5th of the country. I worked closely with disrupted communities assisting aid organizations operationalize accountability systems. My close interactions with disaster survivors helped reveal the fraught nature of humanitarianism and the contradictions within contemporary disaster recovery discourse. These intimate experiences continue to influence the scope and intent of my research.

My doctoral research is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), International Development Research Center (IDRC), U.S Agency for International Development (USAID), the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Liu Institute Bottom Billion Research Grant and the UBC Public Scholars Initiative.

I received a MA in Community and Social Planning from the University of British Columbia and a BBA in Strategic Management from the University of Toronto.

Publications

Journal articles

Aijazi, O. (forthcoming 2016). Who is Chandni Bibi? Survival as Embodiment in Disaster Disrupted Northern Pakistan. Women’s Studies Quarterly 44(1&2): 95-110.

Aijazi, O. & Panjwani, D. (2015). Religion in Spaces of Social Disruption: Re-Reading the Public Transcript of Disaster Relief in Pakistan. International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters 33(1): 28-54.

Aijazi, O. (2015). Theorizing a Social Repair Orientation to Disaster Recovery: Developing Insights for Disaster Recovery Policy and Programming. Global Social Welfare 2(1), 15-28.

Aijazi, O. (2015). Social Repair and Structural Inequity: Implications for Disaster Recovery Practice. International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment 6(4): 454-467.

Aijazi, O., & Angeles, L. C. (2014). Community Development and other Extra-religious Functions of Islamic Schools: A Contemporary Perspective from the Voices of Stakeholders in Two Madrassas in Pakistan. Community Development 45(5), 490-506.

Aijazi, O. (2014). The Imaginations of Humanitarian Assistance: A Machete to Counter the Crazy Forest of Varying Trajectories. UnderCurrents: Journal of Critical Environmental Studies, 18, 46-51.

Book chapters

Aijazi, O. (2016 forthcoming). Security Governance in the Post-Colony: A Critical Introspection of Pakistan’s Counterterrorism Strategy. In “The Palgrave Handbook of Global Counterterrorism Policy.” Ed. by Scott Nicholas Romaniuk, Francis Grice, Daniela Irrerra and Stewart Webb. London: Palgrve Macmillan.

Aijazi, O. & David, M. (2015). A New Clayoquot? Examining the Convergence of First Nations and Environmental NGOs in Vancouver’s Anti-Pipeline Protests. In “Cultural Dynamics of Climate Change and the Environment in Northern America.” Ed. by Bernd Sommer. Leiden: Brill.

Policy work

Aijazi, O. (2015). A Social Repair Orientation to Disaster Recovery: Evidence from Northern Pakistan. Humanitarian Research and Innovations, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Aijazi, O. et.al (2015). Natural Resource Governance Framework Working Group: Technical Meeting Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. IUCN Commission on Economic, Environment and Social Policy.

Aijazi, O., Mohamed-Katerere, J. and Crawhall, N. (2014). Rights Mapping. Conflict-Sensitive Adaptation: Use Human Rights to Build Social and Environmental Resilience. Brief 6. Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee and IUCN Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy.

Aijazi, O. & Hsiao, E. (2014). Build Robust Local Organizations. Conflict-Sensitive Adaptation: Use Human Rights to Build Social and Environmental Resilience. Brief 7. Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee and IUCN Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy.

Aijazi, O. (2011). Guidelines for Investigating Exploitation by Humanitarian Workers. Save the Children.

Aijazi, O. et.al (2010). Emergency Market Mapping Analysis Pakistan 2010 Floods: Wheat Flour and Wheat Seed Market System Analysis in Punjab, Sindh, and KPK Provinces. European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office.

Aijazi, O. et.al (2010). Emergency Market Mapping Analysis Pakistan 2010 Floods: Critical Markets in Punjab Province. European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office.

Aijazi, O. & Akram, S. (2010). Rapid Needs Assessment of Post-Flood Communities, Muzaffargarh District. MEAL Unit, Save the Children.

Aijazi, O. & Hunzai, M. (2010). Preliminary Needs Assessment of Post-Flood Communities, Shikarpur, Sukkur and Jacobabad Districts. MEAL Unit, Save the Children.

Public scholarship

Aijazi, O. (2014). “We should be re-settled there”: On the Limits of Humanitarianism. Tanqeed: Magazine of Politics and Culture 7, Special Issue titled “Pakistan beyond Tremors and Terror”.

Photographs from the field:

Omer_1
Omer pictured third from the left, at a consultative meeting at the African Climate Policy Center, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

 

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A community maintained suspension bridge (Field research site: Neelum Valley, Pakistan administered Kashmir, photograph taken by research participant)

 

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 A sacred shrine (Field research site: Siran Valley, KPK, Pakistan).