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Title: Island landscapes and European culture : an ‘island studies’ perspective
Authors: Baldacchino, Godfrey
Keywords: Islands
Cultural landscapes
Issue Date: 2013
Publisher: Elsevier
Citation: Baldacchino, G. (2013). Island landscapes and European culture : an ‘island studies’ perspective. Journal of Marine and Island Cultures, 2, 13-19.
Abstract: The active imagining of a European identity needs to engage with the geographical possibilities, visualisations and performativities of place. It is all too easy but superficial and naive to consider geophysical parameters as the silent backdrop or empty canvas on which cultural initiatives unfold. European islands, amongst other features – mountains, coasts, forests – are imbued with powerful (and often Western) myths and tropes of place: they combine materiality and metaphor, presenting spaces that at once appear open and closed, fixed yet fluid, complete and peripheral, vulnerable yet resilient. The geo-social constitution of their culture is also subject to the vantage point of the observer, him/herself caught in the liminality between being a visitor, being an islander, and various other uneasily defined categories in between. Acknowledging the insights of the likes of Clifford Geertz, Ulf Hannerz, Anna-Maria Greverus and Owe Ronstro¨ m, this paper proposes that a critical analysis and appreciation of European culture in island landscapes must be one that engages with the nature of islandness; the locus of study should also be the focus of study. This paper also suggests epistemologies to flesh out this approach, its merits, but also the dangers associated with essentialising island spaces and peoples.
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