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This panel examines the politicization of aid and contestations over governance during and after disasters by using historical case studies from South Asia. The key question addressed is how civil society actors involved in the provision of aid have contributed to challenging governance and political power throughout South Asian history. Can we discern certain processes and contexts that lead to greater civil society influence? How do concepts of the political and humanitarianism relate to politicised relief responses? How can discourses on disaster space and time influence the politicization of aid and relief in the colonial and postcolonial era? These questions and more are asked to understand why socio-political changes driven by civil society has gained momentum in specific historical contexts.
A growing body of anthropological and historical literature argue that the practices of providing aid and relief during disasters can contribute to major political shifts. These practices can act as “tipping points”, “accelerators”, and “change-makers” for political transitions. Examples of this phenomenon can be seen in the aftermath of the 1970 Bhola cyclone and in Aceh after the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami. The panel welcomes papers that build upon or departs from the arguments above in case studies related to, but not limited to historical disasters, politics and:
· aid and practices of relief provisions;
· local, regional and international networks;
· ideologies, religious and philosophical ideas of humanitarianism;
· development schemes, political programmes and local needs driven initiatives.