Joshua Keating loves maps. His new book Invisible Countries: Journeys to the Edge of Nationhood is all about the borders we see on maps and those we don’t see.

Keating is a longtime foreign affairs journalist and now an editor at Slate. In this book he takes readers to places that are not quite countries. This includes places like Abkhazia, Somaliland, and the Akwesasne nation between New York and Ontario. He makes an argument that we are currently in a period of what he calls “cartographical stasis” — that is, we are in an era in which not many new countries are being created, at least compared to other eras in recent history. Though, he posits, this period may be coming to an end.

I first got wind of Josh’s new book when I read an article he wrote about a soccer tournament for countries that are not quite countries–think of it as the World Cup for quasi countries. And the book kicks off by referencing this tournament. So that is where we begin our conversation.

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