Emerging Border Conditions in Eurasia
MSc3/4 Graduation studio
2020 / 2021
Tutor: NISHAT AWAN
The studio addressed the border as a geographical and territorial phenomenon, a technology of government and a device that produces its own communities. Situated in the southern port city of Gwadar in Pakistan, we focused on the relations and exchanges across the arbitrary Goldsmid Line that separates the country from Iran and cuts across the Baloch community. We considered the orientation of Gwadar as historic freeport and its connections across the Arabian Sea to the Gulf and Northern Africa, alongside its current status as the terminus point of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which is itself an important north-south link within the wider New Silk Roads project.
The relationship between geology and community is key to understanding Gwadar as territory; whether it is the string of mud volcanoes along the coast that tie together an ethnic community across a colonial border, or the relationship between the fisherfolk’s embodied knowledge of the ebb and flow of the sea and the saint that protects them while out fishing. Both the land and seascape are important actors in the current struggles over territory and resources; as militarisation related to resource extraction produces new territorial formations and hardened borders in the service of geostrategic interests it inevitably intersect violently with local lives.
The maps show these entanglements of infrastructural and extractive development with the increasingly bordered spaces of everyday life in Gwadar. The network of relations that supports informal trade and smuggling across the Pakistan-Iran border contrast sharply with the planned development across the coast and the shrinking spaces of the fisherfolk. While the clandestine movements of Baloch militants take advantage of the rugged terrain and disrupt the inevitable logic of neo-colonial and militarised development. Together with the effects of seasonal and climatic changes these maps show the contested formation of territory in Gwadar in the post-anthropocene.