"Invisible Countries" by Joshua Keating

Invisible Countries Journeys to the Edge of Nationhood Joshua Keating

Publication date:
26 Jun 2018
Yale University Press
296 pages: 210 x 140mm
8 b-w illus.

A thoughtful analysis of how our world’s borders came to be and why we may be emerging from a lengthy period of “cartographical stasis”

What is a country? While certain basic tenets—such as the clear demarcation of a country's borders, and the acknowledgment of its sovereignty by other countries and by international governing bodies like the United Nations—seem applicable, journalist Joshua Keating’s book explores exceptions to these rules, including “breakaway,” “semi-autonomous,” or “self-proclaimed” countries such as Abkhazia, Kurdistan, Somaliland, a Mohawk reservation straddling the U.S.-Canada border, and an island nation whose very existence is threatened by climate change.

Through stories about these countries’ efforts at self-determination, as well as their respective challenges, Keating reveals that there is no universal legal authority determining what we consider a country. He argues that although our current world map appears fairly static, economic, cultural, and environmental forces in the places he describes may spark change. Keating ably bridges history with incisive and sympathetic observations drawn from his travel and personal interviews with residents, political leaders, and scholars in each of these countries.

Joshua Keating is a foreign policy analyst, staff writer, and editor at Slate. Previously, he was a an editor at Foreign Policy. He lives in Washington, DC.

"Invisible Countries is a serious, indefatigable attempt to explore the vexing issue of national identity."--Robert D. Kaplan, author of The Revenge of Geography

"Invisible Countries takes its readers on an incredible journey to some of the world's most unlikely, fragile but determined would-be nations. It's also a wonderfully humane and urgent intellectual quest to find out why countries and borders still matter so much in our supposedly globalizing era."--Alastair Bonnett, author of Unruly Places: Lost Spaces, Secret Cities, and Other Inscrutable Geographies