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'Infrastructural Afterlives': Inside the Movement To Protect Georgia’s Ecosystems

Scenic photograph BY JESS GOUGH in Gambino

Margaret Tyler Research Fellow in Geography, Dr Evelina Gambino, and photographer, Jess Gough, are collaborating on a mixed media project titled “Infrastructural Afterlives”, documenting how investment in infrastructure is transforming ecosystems, social relations and ideas of the future in the Republic of Georgia.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Georgia, has sought to become a key infrastructural node connecting Europe and Asia, yet in the past three decades, many infrastructural projects have become sites of contestation and several have been halted, leaving visible scars across the country. Traveling across the diverse territories where large infrastructures are set to rise, Gough and Gambino are piecing together a multi-vocal and unfinished infrastructural story that depicts the popular uprisings, ecological damage, engineering feats, logistical hurdles and awkward encounters at stake in Georgia’s attempt to become a transit corridor.

The first section of this project, published in Atmos, documents the struggle against a large dam project that, if successful, would entail the submergence of the fertile Rioni Valley just north of Georgia’s second largest city Kutaisi. For the locals who have been opposing this project, this is not a struggle against a single infrastructure. Rather, in defending their rural way of life, they oppose to the developmental vision that has dominated Georgia’s recent history that has led to the privatization of large territories and the exploitation of their natural resources.

Photographs by Jess Gough

Community protests - group of people gathering. Photograph by Jess Gough