Empires of Emptiness: Fortresses of the Sahara and the Steppe

Footprint Gallery, Fusion Building, Ironbridge TF8 7LJ, Jackfield Tile Museum
Monday 23 May (09:00) - Wednesday 21 September 2016 (17:00)

Private View: 31 May 2016, 6pm - 7.30pm. All Welcome - Please RSVP to Ironbridge@contacts.bham.ac.uk

Empires of Emptiness exhibition

Empires of Emptiness housed in the Jackfield Tile Museum (Ironbridge Gorge), considers how empires expand into deserts and explores these vast spaces of wind, sand and stars.  Despite their seemingly limited ‘value’ and significant logistical difficulties, the conquest of desert has often mobilised sizeable resources from some of the world’s most notable empires.

Presenting the results of the University of Birmingham-led research project Outposts of Conquest, this exhibition explores one of the most symbolically charged expressions of imperial control in desert environments: the Russian fortifications in the Central Asian steppe and the vast network of French forts built in an attempt to control the Sahara desert. The comparison shows how these two Christian colonial powers sought to control Muslim and predominantly nomad populations.

The exhibition includes displays about the Sahara & the Steppe, which contextualise the geographical and human environment where these fortresses were built.  The vanity of these imperial fortresses, guarding these barren landscapes, appears even more clearly, and the stories behind these sentinels of the void, even more mysterious.

Empires of Emptiness: Fortresses of the Sahara and the Steppe
23/05/16 – 21/09/16

Footprint Gallery, Fusion Building, Jackfield Tile Museum, Ironbridge TF8 7LJ
Free entry, 10-5, seven days a week

Private View: 31 May 2016, 6pm - 7.30pm. All Welcome - Please RSVP to Ironbridge@contacts.bham.ac.uk 
For more information and details of the related events programme, please see the project website: www.birmingham.ac.uk/forts

Outposts of Conquest research project - Dr Berny Sèbe (Senior Lecturer in Colonial and Postcolonial Studies, University of Birmingham, principal investigator) and Professor Alexander Morrison (Professor of History, Nazarbayev University)
Photographs: Dr Berny Sèbe, Alain Sèbe and Yacine Ketfi