Invisible Borders: Mapping Social Boundaries and Spatial Practices in Moscow

Performance as method of creative inquiry of borders at Kurskaya train station.
Performance as method of creative inquiry of borders at Kurskaya train station.

A 10 day workshop in July 2013 hosted by Strelka Institute and organized by Nitin Sawhney, Shriya Malhotra, and myself. The workshop considered the idea of borders within the city. We explored this idea through a variety of methods including game design, net ethnography, participatory urban research (including the use of the Bordr app), and performance.

Border stories, urban border typographies, and our process & outcomes from the workshop are posted on While a small group of participants, we did gain an incredible group of collaborators and advisors from the fields of sociology, anthropology, dance, and urban planning.

From Strelka, here’s the description of our workshop:

Cities like Istanbul, Jerusalem, Berlin, San Isidro are known for their internal borders that divide peoples, states, economies. These are cities on the edge, visible intersections between worlds; however, all cities are border cities in that spatial divisions are produced through urban planning, city management, and cultural production.

This workshop foregrounds the less visible nodes and edges within the city of Moscow. We will examine the social divisions that official administrative maps and infrastructure enforce while identifying opportunities to create intersections, the formal and informal conditions that foster access and intersection in the city. To do this, we will interface city data with location-based social research to examine the relationship of official boundaries with those that are the product of social practice. We will analyze the manifestations of invisible borders that exist in the city, document how they function, and consider interventions to activate, make them visible or remain hidden intentionally.