• Road Construction, Mobility & Social Change in a Wakhi Village

      Butz, David; Cook, Nancy (2020)
      Throughout the global South road construction is a favoured mechanism of rural development, yet little attention has been given to the implications of new roads for everyday life in the communities to or through which they are routed. Road Construction, Mobility & Social Change offers an intimate glimpse of these implications for residents of Shimshal, a small agro-pastoral community in the Karakoram Mountains of Northern Pakistan, who in 2003 completed construction of a 60km jeep road linking the village to the regional road network. In 2011 and 2012 Shimshal residents were invited to create photos and provide accompanying verbal narratives that evoke the importance of the Shimshal road for their everyday lives. Fifty-seven community members submitted 402 photos with narratives. Approximately 130 of these photos are reproduced here (at least one from each photographer), each with a paragraph-length summary of its associated narrative in three languages: English, Wakhi, and Urdu. The photographs and captions are organized to express six main ways that Shimshalis understand their everyday lives to be affected by the road’s existence: spaces and social contexts; artifacts and visible traces; mobile activities and embodied practices; social relations; identities; and meanings and interpretive frames. Considered together, these photographic and textual materials provide a rare and richly-detailed insiders’ perspective on road construction, changing mobility practices, and daily life in Shimshal.