What constitutes a “disastrous event” and who names it? Drawing on ethnographic and phenomenological research in the mountainscapes of Northern Pakistan, I explore how disasters catalyse conditions for social let-down. I think with my interlocutor: Niaz, whose life is further confounded by another form of betrayal, that of his body. As a result of a life-altering injury, Niaz’s bodily limitations placed significant constraints on his life long before the earthquake that devastated his Himalayan village. Niaz’s failed body (a body that refuses to “recover”), presents an important counterpoint to the disaster of the earthquake. However, Niaz does not attribute his most profound dysphoria to either of the two events, but the disloyalty of his best friend.
Part of Bath Spa University’s Hazard, Risk and Disaster (HRD) Research Lecture Series 2020-21.