Monday, August 2, 2010

Los libros que lleva y trae el viento: Island Enclaves

McGill Queens University Press, Canada. 301pp.
From the book: 
"This book investigates the carving out of islands, and even parts thereof, as jurisdictional enclaves –by and for themselves, or by and for other powers– in the context of idiosyncratic governance. Excising, zoning, detaching, niching, outbordering, dislocating, insulating, unbundling, quarantining, or offshoring are some of the performative active verbs that can be used to describe a clutch of different initiatives that share many basic characteristics. Deliberate or serendipitous, the method would involve the endowment of a specific place with particular and closely circumscribed privileges and powers, often ratified by law. The physical and geographic boundedness and distinctiveness of islands make these spaces especially attractive, and often default candidates of choice for such a thrust of political design that presupposes its own boundedness and distinctiveness.
If one wishes to transform a place in order to endow it with the possibility of doing something different, perhaps shady, perhaps unconventional, perhaps dangerous, whether utopic or dystopic, or simply exceptional, and in any case requiring both containment and distance, then that place should be on an island, or a whole island."
Islands have a unique hold on our imagination as intriguing places where -as Thomas More and Jonathan Swift showed in their fiction- fantastic utopic or dystopic worlds are possible. Perhaps such ideas developed because we are implicitly aware of the unique political and social arrangements that can be designed when a region is so distinctly separate. Island Enclaves highlights the idiosyncratic forms of governance that occur in places that are both a part of, and apart from, national boundaries.
Examining subnational island jurisdictions such as Guantánamo Bay, Macau, Aruba, the Isle of Man, and Prince Edward Island, Godfrey Baldacchino shows how these distinct locales arrange special relationships with larger metropolitan powers. He also deals with the politics, economics, and diplomacy of islands that have been engineered as detention camps, offshore finance centres, military bases, heritage parks, or otherwise autonomous regions. More than a study of how detached regions are governed, Island Enclaves displays the ways in which these jurisdictions are pioneering some of the modern world's most creative -and shadowy- forms of sovereignty and government.
Review quotes:
"This book develops an original thesis: it argues cogently for the existence of subnational island jurisdictions as a specific set of policies that exploit the current phase of globalisation and their geographies to practice a clever use of jurisdiction."
- Paul K. Sutton, London Metropolitan University, U.K.

"This book provides a striking array of examples to illustrate 'offshoring strategies' deployed more easily by non-sovereign island territories because of their amorphous political status resulting from their relatively small and insular character, as well as their so-called autonomy between dependence and sovereignty."
- Jerome L McElroy, St Mary's College

Godfrey Baldacchino is a professor of sociology and Canada Research Chair in Island Studies at the University of Prince Edward Island.

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