privacy policy

Trans-Local Infrastructure and the Spatiality of Political Protest in the Maldivian Hub-City Male’


· Boris Wille Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (Halle (Saale), Germany)


07/27 | 11:20-11:40 UTC+2/CEST


The connectivity of South Asian islands and littorals manifests in trans-local infrastructures. In the island nation of the Maldives the capital Male’ occupies a pivotal role in this because it acts as a hub in terms of maritime as well as airborne transport; it caters for most trans-national organisations and businesses; it accommodates most trans-regional facilities in higher education, research, health, religion and media; and it houses most national institutions of the state like ministries, authorities, the parliament and the presidents office. The concentration of these infrastructures on a single densely populated small island presents a particular spatial configuration that enables transmutations of assets between various networks that in turn allow for the accumulation or contestation of power. In this paper I scrutinise how the trans-local infrastructures in Male’ were target and means in the dispute between two factions during the political crisis of 2012. I focus on the spatial practices of a protest movement that had formed as a response to the controversial change of the Maldivian government in February of that year. I show how the protestors disrupted the functionality of trans-local infrastructures by blocking and occupying urban spaces, and how they established linkages to broader spatial, social and political realms by staging demonstrations at particular urban sites. I argue that the movement’s spatial appropriation of trans-local infrastructures reveals the intertwinements of power and connectivity in an archipelagic society. Finally, I reflect on how the anthropology of spacial practices enables the study of littoral societies’ relationships.