A Constructed Memoir: The History and Heritage of the Baloch Community in Qatar
MFA in Design
In the 1960s, when my father was only thirteen years old, he undertook a perilous journey on a boat alone from Sistan va Balochistan, Iran, to Qatar, in the hopes of a better life. My father, like many long-term residents from Balochistan, has lived in the country for decades, predating the establishment of the modern state of Qatar itself, in 1971. His legal position in the country today is still subject to the Kafala system, his residency subject to his employment status, having to be renewed each year. Permanency is never guaranteed, nor is future planning. In 1984, my father was mandated to move to Al Baluche Camp, then, a hidden place on the outskirts of Doha Reinforcing this permanent-temporariness, the contract stated that residents of the camp were required to use only three materials (plywood, construction-grade lumber, and corrugated metal sheet) to build their houses, which were officially designated as “temporary.”
Thirty-eight years later, some 15,000 residents of the camp are now facing permanent displacement from their camp—their only home—according to a new official mandate. My work highlights the plight of this misunderstood and marginalized community in the country, uncovering the permanent-temporariness and hiddenness of the Baluchis in Qatar, through the construction of a series of symbol-laden cabinets, relying on the same three basic materials used to build our “temporary” homes.