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Disasters as Betrayal Research Lecture

Wednesday, January 15, 2020
11:30 AM – 1:00 PM
Jeffery Hall
Room: 225
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Speaker:  Dr. Omer Aijazi, Post-doctoral Fellow, University of Toronto, Department for the Study of Religion

What constitutes a “disastrous event” and who names it?  Drawing on ethnographic research in Kashmir and Northern Pakistan, I explore how “natural disasters” catalyse conditions for social let-downs. I think with my interlocutor: Niaz, whose life is further confounded by another form of betrayal, that of his body. As a result of a life-altering injury, Niaz’s bodily limitations placed signicant constraints on his life long before the earthquake that devastated his Himalayan village. Niaz’s failed body (a body that refuses to “recover”), presents an important counterpoint to the disaster of the earthquake. However, Niaz does not attribute his most profound dysphoria to either of the two events, but to the disloyalty of his best friend. Niaz helps us to understand disasters as cascading forms of violence where small and large events coalesce. He compels us to consider that disasters are not mere ruptures of a coherent lifeworld but part of the ongoing labor of inhabiting the world.


Barbra Lalonde
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