Etymologically, island means ‘watery land’, going back to Old English íeg, ‘of or pertaining to water’, ‘watery’, ‘watered’ (OED), and land. Linguistically, then, islands transgress the binary opposition between land and water, rather than just being land surrounded by water; they are characterised by water, inseparable from it. Island studies have long emphasised the close connection between terrestrial and aquatic spaces and turned to the study of the multifarious interrelations between islands and water, for instance with the concept of aquapelago (Hayward 2012). This proposed thematic section invites contributions from all disciplines of island studies such as historical and archaeological analyses, ecocritical or geographical approaches as well as literary and linguistic analyses of the construction of island-water relations.
Regarding island discourses, this can mean analysing how water-land interrelations are conceived; how the water-land-scapes of islands and archipelagos and objects, such as flotsam and jetsam, plants, non-human animals, and humans transgressing land and water are represented; and how binary oppositions related to water and land, such as territory – surroundings, culture – nature, masculine – feminine, enclosure – openness etc., are
Island Human Geographies and Histories
A further dimension is how islands’ watery or ecotonal character (Gillis, 2014) shapes human behaviour on the edge of two ecosystems. Island populations have learnt to live in a highly dynamic and often dangerous environment over centuries. As a result, islanders developed customs, traditions, and general ways of life adapted to their environment and adaptable to changing conditions. However, modernisation and urbanisation have changed how people settle and live on many islands and these trends can reduce their adaptability to ongoing climatic changes.
Islands in Literature
Important accounts of islands and constructions of insularity are also found in literary representations. The literary depiction of the connection, dichotomy but also inseparability of island and sea goes as far back as to the archipelagic (or aquapelagic) sea-land-scape in Homer’s Odyssey. A recent genre is climate fiction, which re-negotiates the moment of transition between the solid and the liquid (and vice versa), but also discusses the clash of the two elements and environmental threats caused by melting glaciers, increasing rain and floods, or rising sea levels.
We invite contributions on the topics which include but are not limited to:
- Islands as watery lands from multidisciplinary perspectives
- Travel and migration (practices, policies, laws)
- Environmental descriptions and historical accounts
- Water-land interfaces and liminal spaces in island literature and discourses
- Linguistic constructions of water-land connections, water-land metaphors
- Descriptions of shorelines, literary representations of the shore
- Climate catastrophe discourse (e.g. losing land, floods, salt water infiltration)
- Adaptation to environmental, technological and demographic change
- Economic perspectives (e.g. trade regulations and island access)
- Water-land interfaces in the arts (e.g. artistic accounts, object culture, fine arts)
- Historical perspectives on symbioses or oppositions of land and water
Gillis, John R. The Human Shore. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2012.
Hayward, Philip. ‘Aquapelagos and Aquapelagic Assemblages’. Shima: The International Journal of Research into Island Cultures 6, no. 1 (2012): 1–11.
Coordinators: Monika Barget (Maastricht University), Katrin Dautel (University of Malta), Jan Petzold (Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich), Kathrin Schödel (University of Malta), Laura Dierksmeier (University of Tübingen)
Submission of papers
Authors are invited to submit a 300 word abstract along with 3-4 keywords and a short bio to email@example.com by July 20, 2022. Notifications will be given by August 1st and the deadline for final papers is November 1, 2022.