Dr Nishat Awan

ISRF Early Career Fellow 2015-16

Dr Nishat Awan

ISRF Early Career Fellow 2015-16

Nishat is an academic and spatial practitioner whose research interests include the production and representation of migratory spaces and border areas. She explores how these issues can be addressed through spatial practice, in particular thinking about maps as topological entities. After completing a post-doc at TU Berlin, she returned to University of Sheffield as a lecturer, from where she also holds a PhD (2011). She has taught at a number of architecture schools in the UK and has previously worked in architectural practice. Currently, she is a member of OPENkhana, a collaborative that works between architectural, computational and artistic practice. She is author of Diasporic Agencies (Ashgate, 2016), co-author of, Spatial Agency (Routledge, 2011) and co-editor of Trans-Local-Act (aaa-peprav, 2011).

Migrant Narratives of Citizenship: A Topological Atlas Of European Belonging

Where are the edges of Europe, how are they defined and who can be included within them? The project addresses these questions by creating contemporary narratives of European belonging that challenge prevalent conceptions of Europe and its citizens. I take as my starting point the historical connection between the way state entities represent themselves through maps and the ways in which they define citizens and non-citizens. 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.

In the Topological Atlas of European Belonging I will map Europe from the perspective of those who inhabit its edges, those who are in transit, and those hoping to enter the EU. The Atlas will produce a representation of this complex space through foregrounding cultural, social and localised economic relations that challenge the traditional conception of the binary border. With the prevalence of digital tools for map making there has been an explosion in citizen mapping. This project will exploit the potential of such technologies to create a dynamic map of the Black Sea edge of Europe, that overlays the static and contiguous territories defined by national borders. The site runs from Istanbul to Odessa, an area encompassing the varying stages of EU integration and its accompanying tensions and conflicts.

The project addresses ISRF goals by tackling an important and urgent social issue – migration. Its innovation lies in proposing an interdisciplinary methodology that combines methods from the social sciences and humanities, in particular the combination of mapping and visual methods that are part of my disciplinary background in architecture, with more standard social science methods.

Research Outcomes

  • Awan, N. (2017) ‘The real issue with the barmy design ideas for Trump’s border wall’, The Conversation, 19 April. Available at: https://theconversation.com/the-real-issue-with-the-barmy-design-ideas-for-trumps-border-wall-76338
  • Awan, N. (2016) A Topological Atlas of European Belonging, 31 October – 27 November 2016, Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Details at:https://ysp.org.uk/exhibitions/nishat-awan
  • Awan. N. (2016) ‘Edges of Europe: Visuality, ethics and witnessing in social research’, in Kiddey, R. (Ed.) ISRF Bulletin Issue X: Discovery & Recognition pp. 10-15
  • Awan, N. (Ed.) (2016) Forum on Border Topologies [Special issue]. GeoHumanities, 2(2).
  • Awan, N. (2016) ‘Introduction to Border Topologies’, GeoHumanities, 2(2), pp. 279-283
  • Awan, N. (2016) ‘Digital Narratives and Witnessing: The ethics of engaging with places at a distance’, GeoHumanities 2(2), pp. 311-330
  • Awan, N. (2016) Migrant Narratives Of Citizenship [online] Topological Atlas. Available at: http://www.topologicalatlas.net/hotglue/migrantnarratives [Accessed 20 May 2020].

Contacting Fellows

If you would like to contact any of our Fellows to discuss their ISRF-funded work, please contact Dr Lars Cornelissen (Academic Editor) in the first instance, at lars.cornelissen@isrf.org.