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GaSP! Globalisation and Spatial Practice

Topological Atlas

In a world of rising inequalities and growing conflict borders are at once hardening, through the building of fences and walls, and becoming more dispersed and complex, through governmental practices of visa control and detention. We need ways to make sense of these increasingly complex and intertwined spaces. This project aims to develop a transdisciplinary research programme for analysing and intervening in border areas in the form of a digital atlas. Topological Atlas is a digital tool for large-scale territorial research at border sites. It uses topology as conceptual framework and methodology to produce maps that are inherently ‘dislocative’ and that seek to distort the cartographic norms that are being reinforced through the prevalence of GIS technology and mapping platforms such as Google Earth. Specifically, the project investigates new forms of cartography adapted to multicultural environments and border conditions and proposes a new model for researching border areas beyond the current top-down international relations or security perspective. At the same time it acknowledges the intertwined relationship between the practice of academic inquiry, the knowledge it produces and what such knowledge can do.


Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Sheffield


Awan, Nishat (ed.) (forthcoming 2016), ‘Border Topologies’ special issue of GeoHumanities.

Awan, Nishat (2016) 'Globally Responsible? The ethics of engaging with places at a distance'. Public Lecture at Yohsin Centre for Social Development, Habib University, Karachi, Pakistan.

Awan, Nishat (2015) ‘Topological maps: visual methods in representing migration and diasporic relations’. Presentation at Sussex Centre for Migration Research.

Awan, Nishat (2015) ‘Mapping Social Networks’ at Diasporas and Transnational Communities Summer School, Migration Research Centre, Koç University, Istanbul (29 Jun – 10 Jul 2015)