New islands are under construction or emerging because of climate change. Eccentric enclaves and fantastic utopian experiments are multiplying. Once-secret fantasy gardens are cracking open their doors to outsiders. Our world is becoming stranger by the day—and Alastair Bonnett observes and captures every fascinating change.
In Beyond the Map, Bonnett presents stories of the world’s most extraordinary spaces—many unmarked on any official map—all of which challenge our assumptions about what we know—or think we know—about our world. As cultural, religious and political boundaries ebb and flow with each passing day, traditional maps unravel and fragment. With the same adventurous spirit he effused in the acclaimed Unruly Places, Bonnett takes us to thirty-nine incredible spots around the globe to explore these changing boundaries and stimulate our geographical imagination. Some are tied to disruptive contemporary political turbulence, such as the rise of ISIL, Russia’s incursions into Ukraine and the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom. Others explore the secret places not shown on Google Earth or reflect fast-changing landscapes.
Beyond the Map journeys out into a world of mysterious, daunting and magical spaces. It is a world of hidden cultures and ghostly memories, of uncountable new islands and curious stabs at paradise. From the phantom tunnels of the Tokyo subway to a stunning movie-set re-creation of 1950s-era Moscow; from the caliphate of the Islamic State to virtual cybertopias—this book serves as an imaginative guide to the farthest fringes of geography.
Ranging from downright funny to deadly serious, each chapter in this guide from social geography professor Bonnett (New Views) takes the reader on a journey to an unusual location. These spots are physical (infamous Mokattam Village, also known as Cairo's Garbage City) and virtual (the online world Second Life), and exist in the past (Doggerland, a chunk of southern England now sunk beneath the sea), present (the Islamic State) and future (new islands rising in the Gulf of Bothnia, between Sweden and Finland.) On the surface, these places have little in common. But Bonnett isn't interested in surfaces. His point is that even in the age of Google Earth, many places defy mapping, and that defiance reveals much about how humanity both influences and is influenced by its natural and man-made surroundings. Bonnett calls into question the very solidity of "place" itself, and big issues like pollution and global warming, ethnic violence, and the plight of the global poor hover over all he has to say. "The world exhibited here is fragmented and fragmenting," he writes. By turns delightful and sobering, this book, like the best travel, inspires both the mind and the imagination.