No Man’s Lands have the capacity to intrigue and inspire. They challenge straight forward understandings of ‘place’ and excite our understanding of geography, revealing the ragged (and rugged) edges that continue to feature on maps of the modern world. And yet, far from being empty and abandoned spaces, this expedition will uncover the landscapes, lives, and ways of living that no man’s lands contain and produce.
From No Man’s Land to everyone’s lands
The expedition will bring the sounds and sights of restricted sites and closed-off zones directly to a wide public audience. Working with the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), the team will curate an exhibition of historic and contemporary materials on on their return to the UK.
Along each stage of our 6000-mile journey, the team will work with residents and near-neighbours, NGOs, peace-keeping forces, academics and cultural institutions to document, and creatively engage with, communities dealing with the daily challenges and hazards of life in and around a series of historic and contemporary no-man’s lands. This is a unique prospect, only made possible by pursuing the aims and objectives social science fieldwork within the format of an expedition.
About the expedition
A journey through No Man’s Lands, past and present
Marking the centenary of the Great War, this 6000-mile expedition traces the historical- and political geographies of the No Man’s Land from its Medieval origins to describe the cracks between fiefdoms to the militarized No Man’s Land of the Western Front, along the fault-line of the Iron Curtain in Eastern and Southern Europe and the UN Buffer Zone that continues to divide the island of Cyprus, even after 40 years. It culminates in Bir Tawil on the Egypt-Sudan border – the last truly unclaimed space on Earth.
As a figure of speech, No-Man’s Land is applied to anywhere from derelict inner-city districts and buffer-zones to ‘ungovernable’ regions and tax havens. But what is no-man’s land? What are the conditions that produce it? How is it administered? What sort of human activities do no-man’s lands harbour? These are the questions that prompt us to think about the no-man’s lands not as dead zones, but as living spaces.
% Expedition Progress
See how far we have come and how far we have left
Here you can find infomation and links to the team leading the expedition.
Find out infomation about the people making the expedition possible
Find out more from the field
After five weeks on the road, with more than 6300 miles covered over two continents, our expedition never reached its final destination. Bir Tawil, the unclaimed territory on the Egypt-Sudan border remained beyond our reach.
From the get-go, our final destination was Bir Tawil, a trapezoid-shaped piece of desert on the Egypt-Sudan border. We were so enchanted by this place, that we even incorporated the contours of Bir Tawil into the Logo of the expedition.
Political elites and security forces are often considered as the sole proprietors of no-man’s lands. The decisions (or indecisions) of politicians can catalyze their appearance and sustain their existence, often in conjunction with military and policing apparatus.
From 1945-1990, the border between Bulgaria and Greece was a Cold War frontier. For Bulgaria, this border zone was also the heartland of a newly-nationalised and strategically important sector of the economy. This was Cold War wine country.
We’ll be joining a roundtable discussion with the Urban Conflicts research group at the Department of Architecture, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.
Journalists reporting the so called “migrant crisis” in south-eastern Europe have, over recent months, invoked the idea of “no man’s land” to describe the precarious status of migrants and refugees as they move
North of Nova Gorica, the Route ‘103’ hugs the emerald-coloured Soca river as it cuts through the Julian Alps. The road and river connect small valley floor villages and towns
Most people visit the iconic landscapes of the First World War in Northern France, the remains of the No Man’s Land and the fortified trenches, looking for monuments and ruins of war. We went there and found a forest.
In this first leg of our expedition, we travelled from No Man’s Land to Nowhere. From London to marshes of Norfolk, we traced Medieval sites that somehow fall outside the “normal” order of governance and ownership.
With only three days until the launch of the expedition at The Royal Geographical Society in London we’ve been hard at work preparing the car for the start of the 6000 mile journey.