Desert Disorders: Comparative Approaches to Asian and East African Desert Regions

This project aims to recentre deserts within a comparative, global perspective, using historical, literary, and ethnographic methodologies to challenge presumptions of these as spaces of perceived disorder.
Project status

Deserts offer unique insights into modern regimes of mobilities, ecologies, and bordering practices. This interdisciplinary project will explore deserts as spaces that have been overlooked and marginalised by presumptions of their unproductiveness, inhospitality and homogeneity. It will introduce a comparative, global perspective on deserts as spaces of perceived ‘disorder’.

Led from the Humanities in collaboration with the Social Sciences, the project will use literary, historical and ethnographic methodologies to explore and explain the imperial and postcolonial anxieties that deserts, and their inhabitants, provoked. This project re-orientates deserts from the margins, placing them at the centre of an interrogation of modern/colonial and postcolonial authority and placemaking.

This re-centring will allow the recovery of alternative, possibly resistive, forms of sovereignty that were established among desert populations, and through desert environments and cultures, which existed beyond the conditions of normative state and citizenship regimes.

Principal Investigator: Professor Katharine Baxter, Northumbria University

Sign up to our email newsletters