A General Theory of IslandsJoshua Comaroff in conversation with Faiq Mari

The island is the territorial paradigm of the age. Increasingly, the border of the state is replicated at sites other than its perimeter, both beyond and within. Lines of disjunction and transformation appear at peripheral outposts, in cities, and in non-physical spaces. In this process appear zones of frightening potentiality, “un-places” that serve to explore the full potentials of illiberalism. I will discuss this through the example of Singapore’s self-creation, as an alternative to existing national models. This has not merely to do with land scarcity, but also with the imaginary of bounded space and boundless invention, an “intelligent island” that plays upon a long history of cultural fantasy. Through this case, I will discuss the particular role of the island in the aftermath of the internationalist world order—an archipelago of utopias, prisons, bubbles and exception zones, made of sand and silicon.