Critiquing the Pursuit of Island Sustainability: Blue and Green, with hardly a colour in between
Keywords: Climate change, sustainable development, small island developing states
Abstract: This article critiques a focus on ‘sustainable development’ which highlights a liveable ‘future’ without paying adequate attention to what, we argue, are more pressing issues for a liveable present. We contend that, while inherently commendable, the thrust of many current initiatives related to sustainable development, especially those associated with climate change, promote an ethos which crowds out other pressing policy pursuits with more immediate relevance – although often also associated with sustainable development – such as health, basic education, poverty reduction, and productive employment and livelihoods. Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are at the forefront of these initiatives, given their prominence in discussions on sustainable development, but especially climate change, alongside the basic challenges that they face in maintaining viable economies. Long-term thinking and planning is needed and welcomed; but we may now have gone too far in the opposite direction in terms of aiming for sustainable development in, and for, a distant future that emphasises climate change, without better balancing of that concern with the pressing needs of the moment.
Chars: Islands that float within rivers
Keywords: Char, River islands, Tropical Rivers, Bengal, Hybrid environments
Abstract: Chars are pieces of land that rise temporarily from river-beds in South Asia only to disappear at the whim of the Monsoon Rivers. Chars exist in the vocabulary neither of those who study rivers, nor those who study islands, and have largely remained beyond the mainstream discussions on nature/culture. As analytical constructs and as real life examples of hybrid environments, chars have the potential to extend several theoretical boundaries. This paper presents chars as both the products of ecological processes of floodplain processes and delta building, and the processes of historical developments in colonial and post-colonial land and water management, and offers an outline of char environments, their people and their livelihoods in South Asia.
- Island Paths: Divergent fisheries in the Shetland Islands
Keywords: Shetland, herring, drift net, maritime cultural landscape, technological diffusion
Abstract: This paper offers a case study in a methodology of island analysis drawn from Pope’s concept of maritime cultural landscapes (2008). It analyses the different responses of two islands to the arrival of new fishing technology. These two islands are part of the Shetland archipelago whose population has relied on fisheries for centuries. The peak of the islands’ fish production was in the early 1900s, when the herring industry was at its height. It then entered a period of long decline, during which time the catching sector concentrated into two islands: Burra and Whalsay. In 1965 a new method of herring fishing was introduced from Scandinavia that revolutionised the industry. While Burra did not adopt this technology, Whalsay did, and experienced great success thereafter. The islands continued down very different paths, and remain in stark contrast today. It is argued that the main reasons for the divergent paths lay in the particular historical, social and geographical makeup of the two isles.
- Continuity and Change: Identity and rights protection among later generation Banabans
Keywords: Banaba Island, Rabi Island, Fiji, cultural rights, resettlement, environmental migration
Abstract: Identity and minority rights protection within migrant communities are not a new concern in Migration Studies. However, the issues assume poignancy if resettlement is not voluntary, as was the case with the Banaban community that relocated to Rabi Island, Fiji, in 1945. This article explores why later generation Banabans chose to retain core Banaban identity, notwithstanding evidence of acculturation into Fijian society. In the context of current environmental changes threatening to permanently displace low- lying island communities, the Banaban case demonstrates that not only is retention of collective identity possible among later generations but that ethnically distinct peoples need collective rights protection if they are to survive as a community. Despite laws providing land and establishing Banaban autonomy over Rabi Island pursuant to Banaban customary practices, Banaban minority protection is not as secure as it seems. The claims on Rabi Island by its original settlers are bolstered by Fiji’s political instability and, arguably, by the 2013 Fijian Constitution, relative to ownership of Banaban lands. These social and legal developments not only cast doubt on Banaban land tenure but on Banaban minority rights protection generally. Ethnic or cultural minorities, including those displaced by environmental triggers, have distinct customs, traditions and histories requiring legal protection as well as physical and social space to thrive. The protection of cultural diversity, promoting a balance of cultural identity retention and acculturation as a by-product of a healthy interaction with the host society, constitutes a component of successful long-term resettlement.
- Gazing at Haw Par Villa: Cultural Tourism in Singapore
Keywords: Tourism, Singapore, tourist gaze, cultural tourism
Abstract: Tourism is an important and growing industry in Singapore. Studies on Singapore cultural tourism have generally focused on three major sites: Chinatown, Little India and the Malay Village. The Haw Par Villa tourist site has not been examined in recent years. The case study of Haw Par Villa offered here demonstrates how changing times in Singapore have affected the popularity of tourist sites in an island nation. This article discusses the decline and potential rebirth of Singapore’s Haw Par Villa theme park in the context of cultural tourism, placing a special emphasis on Urry’s concept of the ‘tourist gaze’. Multiple methods were used in gathering data for this study: a survey conducted in Singapore of both local residents and foreign tourists; participant observations of Haw Par Villa; and a thematic content analysis of tour guide books and online documents pertaining to the site. Our analyses suggest that Haw Par Villa represents a treasured past of Singapore, although one in danger of fading away with the changing interests of newer generations of tourists.
- ‘Halfway’ Island: The Creative Expression of Identity Markers within The Band From Rockall project
Keywords: Identity markers, Hebrides, Gaelic, Celtic music, rock and roll, Rockall
Abstract: This article explores island identity and identity markers through a case study of a musical and audio-visual project entitled The Band from Rockall (2012) by Scottish songwriters Calum and Rory Macdonald (co-founders of successful Celtic-Rock group Runrig in 1973). The Band From Rockall was inspired by the Macdonald brothers’ experiences growing up in the Hebrides during the late 1950s and early 1960s, when North American rock and roll began to impact strongly on local Gaelic culture. The tiny rocky outcrop of Rockall lies in the North Atlantic approximately 250 miles west of Scotland. Its location between the Hebrides and North America symbolises the meeting of musical cultures that lies at the core of the project. The article describes the genesis of The Band From Rockall and examines its creative outcomes: a CD, vinyl album and behind-the-scenes DVD. It focuses on ways in which various identity markers (involving language, lyrics, music, visual elements and technology) are embedded within the project texts.
- “Give Me Fish, Not Federalism”: Outer Baldonia and Performances of Micronationality
Keywords: Atlantic Canada, Outer Baldonia, micronation, performance, environment, diplomacy
Abstract: In 1949 Russell Arundel, an American businessman and sport tuna fisherman, asserted the sovereignty of a small island off the south coast of Nova Scotia, Canada. Arundel drafted a Declaration of Independence for the ‘Principality of Outer Baldonia’ and declared the nascent micronation to be a space of recreation, relaxation and tuna-fishing. International newspapers began to cover the story, and a critical letter in the Soviet Liternaya Gazeta prompted a flurry of tongue-in-cheek responses from Baldonian ‘citizens’. Although ownership of the island was transferred to the Nova Scotia Bird Society in 1973, the history of Outer Baldonia reveals a great deal about the types of social performances that correspond with declarations of micronational sovereignty. This article explores how the events surrounding the creation of Outer Baldonia reflect mid-20th Century elite attitudes towards nature and wilderness, as well as non-state diplomacy in the Cold War era.
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