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Omer Aijazi
Liu Scholar; PhD Candidate, Educational Studies
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Email: omer.aijazi@utoronto.ca
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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) 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.


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


Journal Articles:


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. (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. & 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.

Public Scholarship:

"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".




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