Religion in Spaces of Social Disruption: Re-Reading the Public Transcript of Disaster Relief in Pakistan

Omer Aijazi, Dilnoor Panjwani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper explores how everyday religious narratives in post-disaster contexts can be interpreted as key sites of agency articulated in resistance to dominant discourses of disaster relief. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork among affected communities after the 2010 floods in Pakistan, we argue that religious discourses code everyday actions with political meaning and significance. Deploying Scott's (1990) theorization of hidden transcripts and everyday acts of resistance, as well as Mahmood's (2005) more recent framing of agency as a capacity for action, we argue that local communities are dynamic political actors capable of transformative interventions even in the wake of major disasters and the relief efforts that ensue in their wake. By exploring how religious narratives are mobilized by local communities we seek to better understand how the post -disaster arena is used to rework concepts of ‘beneficiaries’, ‘relief provision,’ and ‘religion.’
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-54
Number of pages27
JournalInternational Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2015


  • disaster
  • Pakistan monsoon floods
  • Islam
  • agency
  • ethnography
  • everyday resistance
  • Muslim lifeworlds
  • disaster response
  • disaster recovery

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Global inequalities
  • Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute


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