Designs on Territory: Mental Maps and the Fabrication of a Contested Border


Getty/ACLS Postdoctoral Fellowships in the History of Art


History of Art and Architecture


How do architectural, art, and engineering practices influence the ways that people understand borders and the ways that governments envision political boundaries? Can we uncover and explore the agency of the many unseen actors whose decisions and labor create the built environment, and in turn shape mental maps of borderlands? Deploying tools from art history, urban studies, and architectural theory, and drawing upon archival sources from five countries across thirty years, this study excavates the material culture of the contested Italo-Yugoslav border (1918-1948) to show how the built environment revised people’s perceptions of the border and was deployed to justify or challenge the border’s legitimacy in local, national, and international mindsets.