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‘Without water, there is no life’: Negotiating everyday risks and gendered insecurities in Karachi’s informal settlements

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Nausheen H. Anwar, Amiera Sawas, Daanish Mustafa

Original languageEnglish
JournalURBAN STUDIES
Early online date23 Apr 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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Abstract

This article provides new insights into the politics of water provisioning in Karachi’s informal settlements, where water shortages and contaminations have pushed ordinary citizens to live on the knife edge of water scarcity. We turn our attention to the everyday practices that involve gendered insecurities of water in Karachi, which has been Pakistan’s security laboratory for decades. We explore four shifting security logics that strongly contribute to the crisis of water provisioning at the neighbourhood level and highlight an emergent landscape of ‘securitised water’. Gender maps the antagonisms between these security logics, so we discuss the impacts on ordinary women and men as they experience chronic water shortages. In Karachi, a patriarchal stereotype of the militant or terrorist-controlled water supply is wielded with the aim of upholding statist national security concerns that undermine women’s and men’s daily security in water provisioning whereby everyday issues of risk and insecurity appear politically inconsequential. We contend that risk has a very gendered nature and it is women that experience it both in the home and outside.

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