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dr. Nishat Awan: ‘Topological Atlas: Mapping Contemporary Borderscapes’

The B&T group is very excited to announce that dr. Nishat Awan has decided to continue her ERC-funded project ‘Topological Atlas: Mapping Contemporary Borderscapes’ at B&T.



Topological Atlas develops a transdisciplinary research programme for mapping, analysing and intervening in border areas in the form of a digital atlas.

Contemporary borders operate in ways that are more complex than in the past. They have variously been conceptualised as porous, shifting and solidified. Where a border may be open for some, for others it is an impenetrable wall. Combined with the mobility of geopolitical territorial formations that operate beyond legal frameworks, the very concept and legality of the border is being radically questioned by socio-political phenomena. Such phenomena range from the formation of ISIS to the situation in Europe where states have opened and closed their borders against agreed treaties. We need new ways to make sense of these increasingly complex spaces.


The project thinks through the notion of the ‘atlas’ as an unfinished, impossible and colonial representation of a world, but also as a form of world-making or worlding. We wonder how this topographical representation par excellence can be reimagined differently. Hence topological atlas, is an oxymoron but one that is productive in thinking through the complicities and politics of representation, at a time of its crisis, in order to look beyond...

Topological Atlas is developed as a methodology for producing visual counter-geographies at border sites. It uses digital technologies combined with a participative approach that attends to those who are at the margins of traditional geopolitical inquiry. The project uses topology as conceptual framework and methodology to make maps that produce ‘seamless transitions’ from the space of the migrant to that of the security apparatus that creates barriers to their movement. In doing so it seeks to disrupt the cartographic norms that are being reinforced through the prevalence of GIS technology and proprietary mapping platforms such as Google Earth. Topological Atlas works across three border sites, Pakistan-Iran, Iran-Turkey and EU-UK, producing visual counter-geographies that combine digital mapping and story-telling techniques with a participative approach that attends to those who are at the margins of traditional geopolitical inquiry.


See also: http://www.topologicalatlas.net/


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