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Political environment: the impact of climate disasters on politics in southern Sindh, Pakistan

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy

This thesis is an ethnographic exploration into the nature of the social contract in one region of Pakistan, known as Lower Sindh. It looks at the state-citizen relationship in this part of Southern Pakistan through a new and unique lens and goes beyond traditional frameworks of caste, kinship and feudal networks that have long dominated scholarship on political society in non-urban Pakistan. Based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in three districts of Lower Sindh in the aftermath of a devastating flooding disaster in 2010 and 2011, this research illustrates that a direct relationship between the state and the citizens exists in this part of the country. This relationship includes aspects of clientalistic relations with powerful political individuals and families but also equally aspects of rights, entitlements and notions of being citizens of a bigger social and political entity 'the sarkar'. Despite a dominant and pervasive narrative on the absence of the state and collapsed citizenship in Pakistan, my evidence illustrates that there is an ethnographic construction of a social contract that is based on rights of citizenship. This aspect of citizenship that is based on rights and entitlements was actually pushed along in the aftermath of the flooding disaster in Lower Sindh. The state is neither as absent, nor is its relationship with its citizens as broken as has been suggested by popular accounts.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Advisors
Award date1 Jun 2015

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