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Ayesha Siddiqi PhD

University Lecturer in Human Geography

Ayesha is a development and postcolonial geographer. Her core research interests are around hazard-based disasters and their intersection with politics, security and development in the Global South. In particular, her research explores questions of political space in the aftermath of disasters and uses a social contract framework to shed new light on the way disasters are lived and experienced on the margins of the postcolony.


Prior to joining the department in January 2020, Ayesha was based at the Department of Geography at Royal Holloway University of London. She has an interdisciplinary background and has done considerable work on the interface of academia and policy, most recently for the UK’s Houses of Parliament.


  • Jan 2020 – : University Lecturer, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge
  • May – Dec 2019: Senior Lecturer, Department of Geography, Royal Holloway University of London
  • Feb 2016 – May 2019: Lecturer, Department of Geography, Royal Holloway University of London
  • Mar 2015 – Jan 2016: Lecturer, Department of Social and Policy Sciences, University of Bath


  • 2015: PhD in War Studies and Geography, King’s College London
  • 2008: MA in Poverty and Development, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex
  • 2006: BSc in Economics, Lahore University of Management Sciences

Awards, grants and scholarships

  • AHRC funded part-time secondment to the International Development (Select) Committee, UK House of Commons – To better integrate AHRC-GCRF funded research in parliamentary evidence submissions.
  • Royal Holloway Quality related Research Funding award – Storytelling workshop and exhibition on hazards and war at the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre (2019): Value £10,000
  • Newton Fund Global Challenges Award – Support research work in the Philippines (2017): Value £35,928
  • PI, AHRC-ESRC GCRF Interdisciplinary Research Innovation Award on Conflict and International Development – After Disaster Strikes and Other Stories: The Political Construction of Typhoon Pablo in insurgency affected communities in Mindanao, Philippines (2016 -2019): Value £166,238
  • UN Integrated Research on Disaster Risk (IRDR) – Young Scientist Award (2016)
  • AXA Research Fund Doctoral Fellowship – PhD at King’s College London (2010): Value €130,000
  • King’s College London International Graduate Scholarship – Fieldwork in Pakistan (2010): Value £7,500
  • German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) doctoral scholarship – PhD at Heidelberg University (2010): Value €48,000 Declined
  • IrishAid doctoral scholarship – PhD at Dublin City University (2009): Value €140,000 Declined


Ayesha’s research uses hazard-based disasters, floods, typhoons, landslides to interrogate political relations and power dynamics on the margins of the postcolonial state. Her work has broadly focused on the following themes:

  1. Social contracts, particularly using disasters to better understand the state-citizen relationship in the postcolony. In particular, exploring transformations through new political spaces that emerge in the aftermath of disasters.
  2. The lived experience of disasters in areas affected by conflict and insurgency. In postcolonial contexts where the state-citizen relationship is mediated through a range of different processes and actors, this work seeks to shed new light on the way disasters are lived and constructed.
  3. Postcolonial epistemologies and worldviews on disasters. This work has tried to bring local constructions of disasters to the policy space as well.



  • Siddiqi. A (2019): In the wake of the disaster: Islamists, the state and a social contract in Pakistan. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Tironi. M, Bacigalupe. G, Knowles. S, Dickinson. S, Gil. M, Kelly. S, Ludwig. J, Moesch. J, Molina. F, Palma. K, Siddiqi. A & Waldmueller. J (2019): “Figuring disasters, an experiment on thinking disruptions as methods”. Resilience


  • Siddiqi. A (2018): “Disasters in Conflict Areas: Finding the Politics”. Disasters (Guest Editor of Special Issue on Disasters in Conflict Areas) Vol 42, Issue S2 (S161-S172)
  • Siddiqi. A & Canuday.J.J.P (2018): “Stories from the frontlines: decolonising social contracts for disasters”. Disasters Vol 42, Issue S2 (S215-S238)
  • Siddiqi. A (2018); “‘Disaster citizenship’: An emerging framework for understanding the depth of digital citizenship in Pakistan”. Contemporary South Asia Vol 26, Issue 2 (157-174)


  • Siddiqi. A (2014); “Climatic Disasters and Radical Politics in southern Pakistan: the Non-linear Connection”. Geopolitics Vol 19, Issue 4 (885-910)


  • Siddiqi. A (2013); “The Emerging Social Contract: State–Citizen Interaction after the Floods of 2010 and 2011 in Southern Sindh, Pakistan”. IDS Bulletin Vol 44, No 3 (94-102)


  • Mustafa.D, Sawas. A and Siddiqi. A (2012); “Geographical Scales of Water and Security Nexi in South Asia”. In Ed Europa Regional Surveys of the World 2013. Abingdon, Routledge
  • Siddiqi. A & Lall. M (2012); “Kashmir: Existing Deadlocks and Emerging Challenges”. South Asia Journal Issue 3 (19-26)


  • Siddiqi. A (2011); “Supporting the working but vulnerable: Linkages between social protection and climate change”. Climate and Development Vol 3, No 3 (209-227)


  • Part IB Development Theories, Policies and Practices
  • Part II Geographies of Postcolonialism and Decoloniality

External activities

Policy and research impact:

  • Siddiqi, A., Peters, K., & Zulver, J. (2019). ‘Doble afectación’: living with disasters and conflict in Colombia. ODI Report: When disasters and conflict collide: uncovering the truth.
  • Siddiqi, A., & Peters, K. (2019). Disaster risk reduction in contexts of fragility and armed conflict: a review of emerging evidence challenges assumptions. Contributing paper to Global Assessment Report on disaster risk reduction 2019 (GAR19).
  • Sept 2018 – May 2019: 0.5FTE secondment to the International Development Select Committee (IDC) at the House of Commons, UK Parliament
  • July 2018: UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) panel organiser for two working sessions of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction 2019:
    • WS 8. Inclusive DRM – investing at community level and in local actors
    • WS 9. Disaster displacement & DRR
  • May 2018 – to date: Member of AHRC ODA peer review college.
  • March 2018 – Member of AHRC-GCRF Strategic Advisory Group
  • Eds Gibson. T (2014): “Pathways of Transformation: Disaster Risk Management to Enhance Development Goals”. Contributing paper to Global Assessment Report on disaster risk reduction 2015 GAR15 (case study author on Pakistan Flooding Disaster)