The Roads Project

Coal Roads, Tharparkar, Pakistan

The research is based on the study of the coal mining project located in the southern Pakistani province of Sindh. Its focus is on 200 kilometres of road being built to facilitate access to mine area. The coal mining project is situated in the Tharparkar region, which shares a 500 kilometre frontier with India. Relations between Pakistan and India have remained tense since they both gained independence from Britain in 1947, and this colours Pakistani government policy towards Tharparkar. The exploitation of the mine requires the displacement or ‘negotiated resettlement’ of many tens of thousands of people who are marginal to the interests of the national project in Pakistan.

Before the Partition of the sub-continent in 1947, Sindh had close ties with what is now western India. Today, Tharparkar district of Sindh continues to have a Hindu majority (60%, with the remainder Muslim). That the mine and associated infrastructure work like the roads will displace religious and linguistic minorities adds to the sensitivity of the project. This project will be built on an ethnographic study of the contemporary mining project and the history of the borderland. It will be also be an ethnographic study of roads, with an emphasis on the link between mobility and modernity.