Photograph by Amsha, Ruptured Atlas participant
Photograph by Amsha, Ruptured Atlas participant
Ruptured Atlas (December 2023 - December 2024) is an innovative spatial architectural heritage of more-than-inhabitation project that employs creative, participatory mapping techniques to document the intricate and multi-layered built-environments and journeys of the Yazidis over the past ten years (since the 2014 Yazidi Genocide). 
The Yazidis are an ethno-religious minority indigenous to northwest Iraq who have been subjected to years of discrimination, marginalization and more recently, genocide. By mapping the complexities of home, displacement, migration, and the persistent yearning for return, the project traces the Yazidis' collective spatial experiences before and in the aftermath of the ISIS-perpetrated genocide in August 2014, their ensuing existence in Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps in Kurdistan, Iraq, and their inherent longing to return to their homeland, Sinjar (Yazidi homeland).
For centuries, ethnic minorities in Iraq have endured continuous cycles of discrimination and violence. These systemic issues manifest in diverse ways: land grabbing and appropriation impacting communities such as the Jews and Christians of Iraq; territorial segregation enforced through strategic housing and geopolitical tactics, as experienced by the Yazidis; and persistent harassment and persecution, evidenced by targeted stop-and-search practices, confiscation of official documentation leading to unwarranted imprisonment, mass killings, and a variety of harm-inflicting strategies.
Against this backdrop, Ruptured Atlas strives to serve as a sanctuary, a beacon of hope for these marginalized communities. The project engages trauma-informed and person-centred approaches to participatory and co-design dedicated to preserving and restoring the rich heritage, historical spatial narratives, and the collective identity of these communities, reinforcing their rightful place within Iraq's diverse societal fabric and its ancient civilization. Furthermore, the project's emphasis on engaging with indigenous communities can foster novel insights into the critical geographies of trauma-laden contexts within the Middle East.
Ruptured Atlas uncovers a wealth of spatial lived experiences that demonstrate the complexity of displacement, survival, and return for one of Iraq’s minorities. Through personal spatial stories and imaginative maps, the project reveals the resilience of the Yazidis, their resourcefulness, and their profound attachment to their homeland, Sinjar. It also highlights the continuing challenges the Yazidi community faces, including the struggle to rebuild their homes, restore their community, and overcome trauma.
Alongside the 15 Yazidis whose stories will feature in the atlas, the research team comprises Dr Sana Murrani, Associate Professor in Spatial Practice and multi-disciplinary artist and researcher Kimbal Bumstead. The research team delivered a series of online Creative Mapping Workshops training through Sinjar Academy and conducted individual interviews with the 15 Yazidis which will be turned into multimedia story maps. The atlas will feature on the Yazda website and will go live on the eve of the 10th year commemorating the genocide. A symposium about the findings of the project will be held on 2 October 2024 at the LSE Middle East Centre which will be attended by partners and policy individuals with interest in both Iraq and UK migration.