Maren Aase: Listing for change? Exploring the politics of relief lists after 2007 Cyclone Sidr in Bangladesh

In Disasters, 2019.

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Maren Aase


In the aftermath of major disasters, ideal notions of efficient disaster aid are continuously challenged by realities such as dire needs, limited resources and disaster opportunism. This article demonstrates how relief lists can be productive entry‐points for systematic inquiry into the pervasive politics of disaster relief. Through analysis of qualitative data collected in the five‐year aftermath of the 2007 Cyclone Sidr in Bangladesh, it examines how relief lists featured in both physical and phantom forms, then developed beyond their transparency‐making aims, becoming elevated sites of struggle for post‐disaster resources. Three relief‐list processes, selected to indicate the temporal, material and spatial dynamics of relief encounters, are analysed in depth. Although recipients of cyclone relief appreciated relief items' crucial value, the article argues that list politics also stimulated structures of vulnerability, including inequality. Gradually, relief as governed after Cyclone Sidr also operated to restore the differential vulnerability of the coastal poor.

Published Aug. 5, 2019 3:14 PM - Last modified May 3, 2022 9:37 AM