Where are the edges of Europe, how are they defined, and who can be included within them?
Dr Nishat Awan, a lecturer in the School of Architecture, will travel around the edges of the Black Sea in Europe to see how the continent’s borders are drawn.
Dr Awan will map Europe not from the perspectives of those in power, but from the perspectives of those at the margins such as traders and migrants. Using these narratives and innovative visual methods she will produce a dynamic digital map as part of the ‘Topological Atlas of European Belonging’ to illustrate the region’s static and overlapping borders.
Dr Awan said: “In contrast to the traditional Western understanding of cartography as the representation of an already existing world, I view maps as world-making entities that are traditionally made by those in power.”
The Black Sea, which lies on the edge of South-Eastern Europe, encompasses countries at various stages of European Union integration. The atlas will develop a representation of this complex region, and its accompanying tensions and conflicts, by highlighting cultural, social and localised economic relations that challenge the traditional concept of the border.
Dr Awan said: “I will be talking to people for whom mobility across these spaces is crucial such as traders, but also migrants – those who are passing through and those who ended up there.”
Migration is an increasingly important and polarising topic in Europe that often leads to migrant rights being side lined as politicians attempt to appease perceived voter anxieties. Through researching migrant narratives, this project will seek to uncover contemporary narratives of European belonging that challenge prevalent conceptions of Europe and European citizenship.
During her trip around the Black Sea, Dr Awan will collect visual material including photographs, videos and objects that will be displayed in a temporary exhibition in the towns and cities she travels through. Following the conclusion of the project, a final exhibition will display objects gathered during the journey.
Earlier this year, Dr Awan received a prestigious Early Career Fellowship from the Independent Social Research Foundation in support of the project.
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