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