Zagreb Society of Architects, Think Space, after organizing a brilliant competition entitled Urban Borders (see the winners in a previous article), now launches another competition called Geopolitical Borders.

This is a good opportunity for architects to question the notion of map and to explore the subjectivity of what we usually forget as being a creative way of representing the real.
The jury is composed by the well known Teddy Cruz who is interviewed on Think Space’s website and who wrote the following text:

This competition calls for critical observations of border regions as laboratories from which to imagine new paradigms of urbanization and democratization. These critical thresholds amplify the politics of migration and citizenship, labor and surveillance, the tensions between sprawl and density, formal and informal urbanisms, wealth and poverty and the collisions between natural systems and political jurisdiction, exposing conflict as operational tool to re-think artistic practices.


The Political Equator

In recent years, as an effort to produce a research-framework that would inform his practice, Teddy Cruz conceptualized The Political Equator. Considering the Tijuana-San Diego border as a point of departure, this diagram traces an imaginary line along the US–Mexico border and extends it directly across a world atlas, forming a corridor of global conflict between the 30 and 36 degrees North Parallel. Along this imaginary border encircling the globe lie some of the world’s most contested thresholds: the US-México border at Tijuana/San Diego, the most intensified portal for immigration from Latin America to the United States; the Strait of Gibraltar, where waves of migration flow from North African flow into Europe; the Israeli-Palestinian border that divides the Middle East, along with the embattled frontiers of Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, and Syria, and Jordan; the Line of Control between the Indian state of Kashmir and Azad or free Kashmir on the Pakistani side; the Taiwan Strait where relations between China and Taiwan are increasingly strained as the Pearl River Delta has rapidly ascended to the role of China’s economic gateway for the flow of foreign capital, supported by the traditional centers of Hong Kong and Shanghai and the paradigmatic transformations of the Chinese metropolis also characterized by urbanities of labor and surveillance.

The political equator also resonates with the revised geography of the post-9/11 world according to Thomas P. M. Barnett’s scheme for The Pentagon’s New Map, in which he effectively divides the globe into “Functioning Core,” or parts of the world where “globalization is thick with network connectivity, financial transactions, liberal media flows, and collective security,” and “Non-Integrating Gap,” “regions plagued by politically repressive regimes, widespread poverty and disease, routine mass murder, and chronic conflicts that incubate the next generation of global terrorists.”

But while this renewed global border is a working diagram, emblematic of hemispheric divisions between wealth and poverty, intersecting a necklace of some of the most contested checkpoints in the world, it is ultimately not a ‘flat line’ but an operative critical threshold that bends, fragments and stretches in order to reveal other sites of conflict worldwide where invisible trans-hemispheric sociopolitical, economic and environmental dynamics are manifested at regional and local scales. The Political Equator is the point of entry into many of these radical localities, distributed across the continents, arguing that some of the most relevant projects forwarding socio-economic inclusion and artistic experimentation will not emerge from sites of abundance but from sites of scarcity, in the midst of the conflict between geopolitical borders, natural resources and marginal communities.