Infrastructural Spaces

By: Dr. Nishat Awan and Zahra Malkani

Gwadar appears in the Pakistani national imaginary as a potential new Dubai, with the hope that large-scale infrastructure related to CPEC will bring ‘progress’ and ‘development’. Yet, such infrastructure creates its own effects within places that are not always easy to predict. Ports, roads, pipelines and logistics organise political and social life around themselves, from protests against resource extraction and land grabs to changing the rhythm and pace of life in their wake. As instruments of neo-colonial power they create forms of state governance through connecting and isolating people and places. This workshop will explore the relationship between infrastructural development and local everyday life rhythms in Gwadar.

We are interested in two scales of infrastructure, the large-scale, state sanctioned CPEC developments and the smaller scale informal infrastructure of the grey economy and illicit border trade. Through focusing on the affects these produce, we aim to understand, for example, the contradictions between, the way in which the mahigeer (fisherfolk) appreciate a living landscape and how marine ecologies are understood within development frameworks. Or how the construction of infrastructure is often used by states to simultaneously promise development while repressing latent desires for self-determination within what are often marginalised groups. Or how larger scale infrastructural development is affecting everyday life in an area dependent on grey border economies.