Tracing the Great Salt Hedge

Selected images


While borders are typically represented as simple lines on a map, the reach of their influence is much broader than this. By studying the historical Great Salt Hedge in India, this project considers both the physical border itself—its structure, material, maintenance—and its impact on the surrounding territory. Through a massive feat of colonial territorial division, the Great Hedge created a barrier between the west and east in India in the first half of the 19th century, and at once transformed the political, economic, and social fabric of the nation.

The Great Hedge, a botanical and architectural structure, served as part of the Inland Customs Line that was built (and planted), maintained, and controlled by the British East India Company in the nineteenth century. The Inland Customs Line provided control over import of salt (controlled by the British East India Company), enforcing the oppressive Salt Tax which led to salt-starvation as it increased British control of the country.

Tracing the Great Salt Hedge traces the Great Hedge, locating the border physically in the landscape today, but also tracing the flows that passed through it and demonstrating its impact on the surrounding territory. The current condition of the hedge’s original location and its remaining sections in rural Uttar Pradesh were studied in the field to see what, if any, impacts remain at a local scale, in contrast to the influence of its legacy at a national scale.