Omer Aijazi

Omer Aijazi

Dr

  • C1.43, Ellen Wilkinson Building

Accepting PhD Students

Personal profile

Research interests

I am a critical disaster studies scholar and decolonial ethnographer of borderland South Asia with long-term commitments in the disputed territory of Kashmir and its continuity with Northern Pakistan. My scholarship is rooted in the insight that imperialism and settler colonialism have been ending Indigenous, Black, and Brown worlds long before the climate crisis. Trained in both the social sciences and humanities, my approach to research and teaching is transdisciplinary, exploratory, and experimental. I weave subversive methodologies with creative techniques to decenter mainstream circuits of knowledge, solidarity, and action while responding to the uncertain present, that is, a world marked by complexity, chaos, and contradiction. Welcoming opportunities to feel coherent with the world as encountered, I write for the spirited and enthralled—control theorists are not my kin.

My first book, Atmospheric Violence: Disaster and Repair in Kashmir (contemporary ethnography series at the University of Pennsylvania Press 2024), foregrounds disasters as cascading forms of violence to examine living with/in dystopia as dailiness. The book—a creative ethnography—focuses on violence in the longue durée and shows that disasters are rarely definitive ruptures of some coherent lifeworld but part and parcel of the ongoing labor of making life viable. Instead of focusing on rupture or trauma, the book centers on the social labor through which people refuse the conditions of death imposed upon them and create viable lives for themselves, even amidst constant diminishment and world-annihilation.

Continuing my work in Kashmir and Northern Pakistan, my second book project, entitled Muslim Affects, examines Muslim affective life within environmental and political fragility by considering how Islam, as it is lived and deeply felt, opens otherwise worlds and possibilities. When carefully centered, such attention can interrupt the normative underpinnings of recovery and repair that tend to overlook people’s ontological moorings, a task made even more urgent when secularism remains the hegemonic analytical framework. The book argues that centering on spiritual subjectivities and metaphysical yearnings can prioritize Muslim survivors’ aspirations and desires for the future, often contrasting those life-sustaining interventions envisioned by the international humanitarian machinery.

I am also working on a community-centered documentary cookbook called Have You Eaten? The project focuses on the kitchen as a site of vulnerability, relationality, and deep social ties and emerges from my ongoing fieldwork in Kashmir and Northern Pakistan, where I collected family recipes and stories about cooking and eating. The cookbook seeks to expand existing approaches to the study of disaster and conflict by engaging with the verve and joy of living, bringing into view those moments where people are not seemingly resisting power structures but, in their flourishing, are, I suggest, undertaking forms of resistance and refusal. Envisioned as a political project written both in English and the local language, Have You Eaten? will serve as an advocacy tool for community groups, and is a modest attempt at reciprocity, community engagement, and research creation.

Supervision information

Disciplines will not set us free. Our relations, solidarities, and accountabilities might. I welcome students interested in applying a decolonial lens to contexts of protracted violence, disaster, and colonial occupation, particularly in borderland South Asia and the Himalayan region. Those from non-traditional academic backgrounds and those rooted in community, social justice and human rights activism, arts-based practices, and equity work are especially encouraged to reach out.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 1 - No Poverty
  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
  • SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, Critical Disaster Studies, University of British Columbia

Master of Planning, Community-Engaged Disaster Response, University of British Columbia

Bachelor of Arts, Strategic Management, University of Toronto

External positions

Technical Editor, Asian Disaster Preparedness Center ADPC

Chair of Mountain Ecosystems Specialist Group, International Union for Conservation of Nature IUCN

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Global inequalities
  • Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute
  • Creative Manchester

Keywords

  • Critical Disaster Studies
  • Violence
  • Repair
  • Decolonization
  • Borderlands
  • Political Anthropology
  • Kashmir
  • Line of Control
  • Northern Pakistan
  • Muslim Lifeworlds
  • Affect
  • Ethnographic Methods
  • South Asia
  • Conflict
  • Storytelling
  • Himlayas
  • Research as Activism
  • Settler Colonialism
  • Ethics
  • Complex Emergencies
  • Sovereignty
  • Reparation
  • Disaster Recovery
  • Anthropology of Violence
  • Epistemic Disobedience
  • War
  • Creative Ethnography
  • Theory from the South
  • Transdisciplinarity
  • The Everyday
  • Critical Theory
  • Futurity
  • Aesthetics
  • World-building
  • Moral Reconstruction
  • Disaster Anthropology

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