(University of Bern)
Paper Short Abstract:
With case studies on reconstruction after the 2005 earthquake in Pakistani-administrated Azad Kashmir I demonstrate how a shelter housing scheme and its procedures figured in peoples' daily struggles over social and political power relations and state-society boundaries in the city of Muzaffarabad.
Paper long abstract:
With case studies on reconstruction after the 2005 earthquake in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani-administrated Azad Kashmir, I demonstrate in this paper how a prefabricated housing scheme, carried out by state authorities, intertwined with local people's imaginations and contestations of the 'state'. Relating to social and political ideas and practices of 'home', 'entitlements' and 'corruption', families in Muzaffarabad used the shelter project as symbolic and material means in their struggles for reconstruction and over social and political power relations including state-society boundaries.
My paper draws on a Foucault-inspired anthropology of political intervention and government, arguing that disasters, because of the local and translocal state and non-state interventions for reconstruction they often entail, prompt us to explore what these interventions 'do' in people's lives - how reconstruction policies govern people and their practices, and how people undermine these policies and make them work towards their own social and political ends.
After the government of Azad Kashmir announced that families whose houses had collapsed during the earthquake would receive a prefabricated house, state officials visited the families in Muzaffarabad to register the project's beneficiaries. Despite - or rather because of - this procedure, the distribution of the shelters created conflicts, since many families to whom the officials had promised a shelter were left empty-handed. While state officials insisted that the procedure was transparent and fair, people criticised and resisted the fraudulent and unjust practices of bureaucrats and politicians, who deprived them of what they were entitled to.
Post-disaster situations and the appropriation of disaster governance from below [Disaster and Crisis Anthropology Network (DICAN)]