11th Jan 2021

The villages of north Punjab in Pakistan are home to many of the undocumented migrants from the country who are attempting to make their way to Europe. These areas are slowly being engulfed by the rapid urbanisation and industrialisation creeping northwards from the city of Lahore. As villages lose their land to industrial workshops and small-scale highly polluting factories, and as climate change makes crop yields unpredictable, young men are being lured to make difficult journeys, to go bahir, a word that means ‘outside’ and usually denotes somewhere, anywhere, in the prosperous West.


11th Jan 2021

The border appears at the peripheries of Karachi, where Pakistan’s largest city bleeds into Balochistan province – the boundaries are still disputed by the Baloch who live and work here. Frequent raids by the authorities regulate the flow of goods and people, not necessarily stopping but controlling, dependent of course on the money that changes hands.


11th Jan 2021

We wanted to understand how these different flows across the border intersect with the everyday lives of the mahigeer (fisherfolk) who have lived in this area for centuries. For the fisherfolk that we spoke with, there is an animating force in the sea, the sumunder, but also in the various beings that we share out existence with, the fish and birds of Gwadar, but also the djinn and jati that live across the land and the sea. How do we understand the lifeworlds that the mahigeer (fisherfolk) describe, without attributing the characteristics of Life to Nonlife, as Elizabeth Povinelli warns against?


11th Jan 2021

Many know Gwadar as the terminus point of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), situated near the Pakistan-Iran border. It is a place through which all sorts of contraband passes, oil, goods, drugs... but also people. Those from other parts of the country are often arrested in the area, simply for the crime of being too close to the border without a ‘good’ reason.


11th Jan 2021

At the border, the states power and its sense of responsibility wanes. Smuggling is a way of life, oil from Iran is the lifeblood of the region, around it many lives are lived. The abundance of Pakistani flags tells its own story of a people forced into proving their allegiance to a state that sees them as other. Migrants pass through these areas with their own prejudices and misunderstandings – ethnic tensions exacerbated by state actions dictate their passage across the border.



We start at the Pakistan-Iran border, a contested zone demarcated by the Goldschmid Line. It is a border that by its very name indicates its colonial legacy, cutting across an aspirant nation - the ethnic Baloch population. What used to be a fairly porous border has been fortified recently with the construction of a border wall by Iran. We will be working across two Pakistani cities, Gwadar in Balochistan province very close to the border, and Karachi, which is the major port city where the majority of migrants gather to begin their journey.