Reclaim the Sea

Coming together demanding environmental and social justice with a global movement to reclaim our oceans and coastlines

read more

“Dreams so Big Only the Sea Can Hold Them”: Man-Made Islands as Anxious Spaces, Cultural Icons, and Travelling Visions

4 years ago, Written by , Posted in Academia, Articles

Academic Paper by Mark Jackson & Veronica della Dora

School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol, University Road, Bristol BS8 1SS, England

For the full version email the corresponding author at m.jackson{at}


This paper explores a new phenomenon which is assuming global proportions: the planning and construction of artificial islands. Varying in size, shape, and purpose, man-made islands are looming on the horizons of an increasing number of aspiring global cities and regions at the margins of global capitalism. From the Persian Gulf to the Black Sea, from the Caribbean to the North Sea, artificial islands are increasingly embraced as spectacular, technical signifiers of global participation and urban economic progress: as the ‘new cultural icons’. Appropriated in different contexts, island projects, however, can be (and are) also resignified. They thus change in form, meaning, and use. While islands have been objects of renewed interest in cultural and historical geography, surprisingly, these new man-made landforms seem to have gone largely unnoticed. This paper suggests a research agenda to engage with artificial islands as a new ‘metageographical’ category of emergent, yet historically resonant, social space.