This article examines the making and unmaking of an infrastructural system in the Indo-Iranian borderlands, an area that is often overlooked in an area studies paradigm. In particular, it focuses on the infrastructural network that developed following World War I with the Iranian border town of Dozdab/Zahedan as a nodal point. The article explores two interrelated issues. First, it looks at the role of British strategic interests in shaping infrastructural development, which significantly influenced the direction and kind of movement promoted in the borderlands. Second, through the case of the rise and decline of Sikh migrant communities in eastern Iran, it examines how the borderlands came into being in the absence of strong state authorities. It argues that the prosperity of Sikh migrants depended on the new infrastructural system, which in turn depended on the precarious codependency between the Iranian state, the British authorities, and Sikh drivers and traders. During the 1920s, despite the British and Iranian ambivalence toward border crossers, Sikhs thrived while participating in global networks of Indian anticolonialists. Albeit temporarily, they managed to invite the interventions of competing state authorities as they saw fit, illustrating how erratic narratives marked the emergence of territorialized nation-states in the borderlands.

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