Theresa May once said, “if you believe you are a citizen of the world, you are a citizen of nowhere.” This book might be read as a subversion of the prime minister’s statementby Josh Ireland / August 16, 2017 / Leave a comment
Published in September 2017 issue of Prospect Magazine
by Alastair Bonnett (Aurum Press, £16.99)
At last year’s Tory Party conference, Theresa May said, “if you believe you are a citizen of the world, you are a citizen of nowhere.” Alastair Bonnett’s playful attempt to re-enchant the world might be read as a subversion of the assumptions underpinning the prime minister’s statement.
Full of rich, strange anecdote, Beyond the Map skips restlessly around the globe, from the islands emerging out of the Gulf of Bothnia, to trap streets—deliberate mistakes introduced by map-makers to flush out plagiarists (though some of these errata have been known to transmogrify into actual locations). We visit the world’s strangest movie set, in which 1950s Moscow is recreated—complete with a newspaper producing Soviet news, and a Soviet hairdresser—in an abandoned sports complex in Kharkov. So fully did the actors inhabit their roles that they even established their own secret police.
Along the way Bonnett poses challenging, often uncomfortable, questions about the roles that power, money and identity have come to play in negotiating—or, just as often, dictating—our sense of place. It seems that neither May’s “nowhere,” nor its implied opposite “somewhere,” are settled categories: globalisation and technology have profoundly altered our relationship with national borders; our careless stewardship of the planet means we can no longer be completely confident about the terrain on which we stand. This fine book is an expert, engaged guide to how one might begin to start mapping these often perplexing processes.