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‘Without Water, There is No Life’: Negotiating Everyday Risks and Gendered Insecurities in Karachi’s Informal Settlements

Academic Paper

This multi-authored article (2019) 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.

Peripheral Urbanization in South Asia

Academic Paper

Based on seven years of fieldwork and ongoing engagements with Karachi’s periphery, this paper (2018) advances a new perspective on the agrarian-urban frontier as constitutive of a new value regime and politics in Pakistan.

A View on Urban Transformations from the Margins of Asia

Academic Paper

Looking at border towns in Iran and Pakistan, this paper (2016) considers how mobile urban networks, infrastructures and flows of commodities stretch and coalesce in an age of intensified urbanization.

Re-imagining Inclusive Urban Futures for Transformation

Academic Paper

This multi-authored concept paper (2016) considers the complex nature of urbanization across the globe, and the seemingly insurmountable challenges of transforming urban futures that require multi-disciplinary, multi-stakeholder research efforts across diverse geographies.

Intersections of Gender, Mobility and Violence in Urban Pakistan

Academic Paper

The South Asian city is changing fast. There are more women in urban centers than ever before and they are joining the workforce, albeit more in the informal sector. But the benefits of urbanization do not accrue equally to men and women. Despite women’s need to travel within cities to access economic and educational opportunities, they are still habitually harassed for being out in public spaces. In this chapter (2018) that appears in the edited book Social Theories of Urban Violence in the Global South (Routledge), the authors consider the problems that women experience with mobility in Pakistan’s cities, as they challenge traditional gender roles.

Gender and violence in urban Pakistan

Report

The report is the final output of the Safe and Inclusive Cities Program (SAIC) project (2013 – 2016). The project has focused on the material and discursive drivers of gender roles and their relevance to configuring violent geographies specifically among 12 urban poor, lower-income, lower-middle income, neighborhoods of 3 cities: Karachi, Rawalpindi, and Islamabad. The project has investigated how frustrated gendered expectations may be complicit in driving different types of violence and how they may be tackled by addressing first, the material aspects of gender roles through improved access to infrastructure services and opportunities, and second, discursive aspects of gender roles in terms of public education and media. This report's findings are based upon approximately 2400 hundred questionnaire surveys, close to 60 ethnographic style interviews, participant observations, participatory photographic surveys, media monitoring, secondary literature review and some key informant interviews. The findings overwhelmingly point towards access to services and vulnerability profiles of households as major drivers of violence, as they intersect with discourses surrounding masculinities, femininities and sexualities. The core discussions and analysis in this final research report are anchored in the following four themes: vulnerabilities, mobilities, access to infrastructure services, and violence. This was a multi-method research project and each of the methods was chosen to address specific types of data relevant to the specific research questions.