BS (Social Sciences & Liberal Arts)

Faculty / School

School of Economics and Social Sciences (SESS)


Department of Social Sciences & Liberal Arts

Date of Award

Spring 2023

Date of Submission



Sajjad Ahmad, Visiting Faculty, Department of Social Sciences and Liberal Arts (SSLA)

Project Type

SSLA Culminating Experience

Access Type

Restricted Access


This senior year thesis paper is about the history of border formations in the Pamirian Knot region – also commonly known as High-Mountain Asia – from the Great Game to the present. The Pamirian Knot is a region geographically defined by extremely high mountain ranges, such as the Karakoram, Hindu Kush, Pamirs, Tien Shan, and the Western Himalayas. Politically, it is divided under the control of several states – Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, China, and India. The region has historically been considered to be at the crossroads of Asia, facilitating trade and communication through the mountains via the Silk Road, connecting West, Central, South, and East Asia together. However, this once fairly porous region is now contested between the various states, and the administrative regions in these states are subject to various pressures by the state. To understand why today the region fares the way it does, it is important to understand how it came to being so, which can be understood by looking at two important stages of history. Firstly, to understand how the region was mapped and explored, and how borders were created by the colonial powers – Britain and Russia – for their own colonial projects. Secondly, to understand how these borders were used by the nation-states which inherited them in the post-World War II era. By understanding the process of the political subdivision and the way sovereignty moved from the local to the external in the Pamirian Knot, one can then begin a discourse and further understand how the region fares in today’s political arena, something that this paper tries to do.



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