Artificial Islands: Adventures in the Dominions – Owen Hatherley
Great Britain has just left one Union, after years of bitter argument and divisive posturing. But what if the island’s future lies in another Union altogether, with some of its former colonial “kith and kin” across the seas? Why be in a Union with your immediate neighbours, when you could instead be in a trans-oceanic super-state with our old friends in Canada, Australia and New Zealand? Welcome to the strange world of the ‘CANZUK Union’, the name for a quixotic but apparently serious plan to reunify the white-majority ‘Dominions’ of the British Empire under the flag of low taxes, strong borders and climate change denialism. Artificial Islands tests the idea that Britain’s natural allies and closest relations are in these three countries in North America and the Antipodes, through a good look at the histories, townscapes and spaces of several cities across the settler zones of the British Empire.
These are some of the most purely artificial and modern landscapes in the world, British-designed cities that were built with extreme rapidity in forcibly seized territories on the other side of the world from Britain. Were these places really no more than just a reproduction of British Values planted in unlikely corners of the globe? How are people in Auckland, Melbourne, Montreal, Ottawa and Wellington re-imagining their own history, or their countries’ role in the British Empire and their complicity in its crimes? And do they have any interest in a union with us?