“Unoccupied Territories: The Outlying Islands of America’s Realm”
              Patrick J. Reed
              At 15°53’N 78°38’W in the Caribbean Sea lies the remote Bajo Nuevo Bank. Population: zero. Formerly claimed by Jamaica and Honduras, this reef and islet cluster is administered by Colombia, though Nicaragua and the US both insist that it belongs to them. Devoid of citizenry, the island is defined by its strategic and economic value to competing nation states. Bajo Nuevo and ten other islets or atolls comprise a category of US territories known as the Minor Outlying Islands. As the Center for Land Use Interpretation (CLUI) describes them in “Unoccupied Territories: The Outlying Islands of America’s Realm,” an online exhibition comprising images from Google Earth alongside texts describing the islands, they are the “tattered fragments of [US] dominion.” To the CLUI, a non-profit producing interdisciplinary work at the intersection of art and geography, these unorganized, mostly unincorporated, mostly uninhabited, and sometimes disputed geopolitical fragments demand investigation. The islands’ histories of abuse by imperial ambition and damage by global war are distinct, but they share absorption into US jurisdiction under the Guano Islands Act of 1856, a federal law that permitted Americans to claim the scantest ocean topography on the premise that it was stateless and held …

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