Dr. Nishat Awan

Staff details

Position Senior Lecturer
Department Visual Cultures
Email n.awan (@gold.ac.uk)
Dr. Nishat Awan

An architect by training, Nishat’s work focuses on the intersection of geopolitics and space, including questions related to diasporas, migration and border regimes. She is interested in modes of visual and spatial representation and is committed to exploring ethical forms of engagement with places at a distance.

In 2015 she received an early career fellowship from the Independent Social Research Foundation for a project entitled, Edges of Europe. Her recent book, Diasporic Agencies (Routledge, 2016) addresses the subject of how architecture and urban design can respond to the consequences of increasing migration. Currently, she leads the ERC funded project, Topological Atlas, which aims to produce visual counter-geographies that might help support the fragile movements of migrants as they encounter the security apparatus of the border.

Academic qualifications

  • PhD Architecture, University of Sheffield 2011
  • MA Architecture, University of Sheffield 2005
  • Diploma in Architecture, University of Sheffield 2004

Teaching and Supervision

Before joining Goldsmiths, Nishat led the MA in Architectural Design at University of Sheffield where most of her teaching was at post-graduate level.

Research interests

Currently, my research explores the relationship between architecture, visual media and migration, including an interest in border infrastructures and creative modes of visual and spatial analysis.

Topological Atlas: Mapping Contemporary Borderscapes (2018 – 2023)
Contemporary borders operate in ways that are more complex than in the past. Topological Atlas develops digital tools of mapping and spatial analysis for working in border areas. We approach the ‘atlas’ as an unfinished and impossible representation of a world – as a form of worlding. We explore how this colonial and topographical representation par excellence can be reimagined differently for a horizonless world. We think maps, mapping and atlases through: navigation and orientation; intensities of experience; seamless transitions and dissonant spaces; composites that do not produce a unified world; the tension between terrain, technology and subjectivity.

Infrastructural Terror Security, Speculation & Development
Large-scale infrastructure creates its own logics within the space and time of development, and particularly so in relation to areas of conflict. The project explores the antagonistic relationship between indigenous land claims that require a recognition of a living landscape and infrastructural development in the Pakistani city of Gwadar, where state sanctioned developments related to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) sit uncomfortably next to the smaller scale informal infrastructure of the grey economy and illicit border trade.

Politics and Performance in Pakistan
The project is concerned with popular politics in Pakistan where the puppet emerges as an important historical and contemporary figure within subaltern resistance. More broadly, I am interested in the ways that neoliberal framings have transformed popular understandings of agency from resistance to problematic notions of resilience.



Awan, Nishat. 2016. Diasporic Agencies: Mapping the City Otherwise. Abingdon: Routledge. ISBN 9781472433770

Awan, Nishat; Schneider, Tatjana and Till, Jeremy. 2011. Spatial Agency: Other ways of doing architecture. Abingdon, Oxon; New York: Routledge. ISBN 9780415571937

Edited Book

Petrescu, Doina; Petcou, Constantin and Awan, Nishat, eds. 2011. Trans-Local-Act: Cultural practices within and across. Paris: aaa-peprav. ISBN 978-2-9530751-13

Book Section

Awan, Nishat. 2017. Mapping Otherwise: Imagining other futures and other possibilities. In: Meike Schalk; Thérèse Kristiansson and Ramia Mazé, eds. Feminist Futures of Spatial Practice: Materialisms, Activisms, Dialogues, Pedagogies, Projections. Baunach: AADR, pp. 19-27. ISBN 9783887784898

Awan, Nishat. 2014. Diasporic experience and the need for topological methods. In: Peter Blundell Jones and Mark Meagher, eds. Architecture and Movement: The Dynamic Experience of Buildings and Landscapes. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. ISBN 9780415725354

Awan, Nishat. 2014. Agential Exchanges: Thinking the empirical in relation to productivity. In: André Viljoen and Katrin Bohn, eds. Second Nature Urban Agriculture: Designing Productive Cities. Abingdon, Oxon; New York: Routledge, pp. 108-113. ISBN 9780415540582

Awan, Nishat. 2012. Re-mapping Kurdistan. In: Renata Tyszczuk, ed. ATLAS: Geography, Architecture and Change. London: Black Dog Publishing. ISBN 9781907317392

Awan, Nishat and Schneider, Tatjana. 2011. Other productions of space. In: Silvia Forlati; Anne Isopp and Astrid Piber, eds. Wonderland Manual for Emerging Architects. Vienna: Springer, pp. 330-335. ISBN 9783709108222


Awan, Nishat. 2016. Digital Narratives and Witnessing: The Ethics of Engaging with Places at a Distance. Geohumanities, 2(2), pp. 311-330. ISSN 2373-566X

Awan, Nishat. 2016. Introduction to Border Topologies. GeoHumanities, 2(2), pp. 279-283. ISSN 2373-566X

Awan, Nishat and Hoskyns, Teresa. 2015. Mapping Occupy. Architecture and Culture, 2(1), pp. 130-140. ISSN 2050-7828

Awan, Nishat and Langley, Phil. 2013. Mapping Migrant Territories as Topological Deformations of Space. Space and Culture, 16(2), pp. 229-245. ISSN 1206-3312

Awan, Nishat; Schneider, Tatjana and Till, Jeremy. 2011. Instances of ecological motivations in the production and use of space. Field: A Free Journal for Architecture, 4(1), pp. 219-226. ISSN 1755-068

Awan, Nishat. 2008. Words and objects in transposing desire and making space. arq: Architectural Research Quarterly, 12, pp. 263-268. ISSN 1359-1355


Awan, Nishat. 2016. Edges of Europe: Visuality, ethics and witnessing in social research. Working Paper. Independent Social Research Foundation, London.


Awan, Nishat. 2016. Migrant Narratives of Citizenship: A Topological Atlas of European Belonging. In: "Migrant Narratives of Citizenship: A Topological Atlas of European Belonging", Yorkshire Sculpture Park, United Kingdom, 31 October – 27 November 2016.

Awan, Nishat; Schneider, Tatjana and Till, Jeremy. 2013. The Institute of Radical Spatial Education. In: "Lisbon Architecture Triennale", Lisbon, Portugal, 17-20 Oct 2013.

Further profile content

Grants and awards

2018: Topological Atlas
Principal Investigator: European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant

2016: The Unknown City
Co-investigator: GCRF ESRC/AHRC Research Grant (led by Michael Collyer)

2015: Migrant Narratives of Belonging
Early Career Fellowship, Independent Social Science Research Foundation

2014: Topology and Mapping
Research Development Fellowship, University of Sheffield

2013: Cultural Value of Architecture
Co-investigator on AHRC Research Development Grant (led by Flora Samuel)

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