The aim of the panel is to discuss life on the islands in relation to understanding islands as spaces imagined both as utopias and as productions and reproductions of everyday island experiences.
This panel welcomes papers presenting ethnographic and folkloristic research conducted on or about islands, in order to promote the contribution of this kind of research to the emerging interdisciplinary field of Island Studies. Islands have been, and are, a realisation of utopia for some, while they remain a harsh reality of hardship for others. We invite participants to discuss the tensions between perceptions and uses, discourses and practices concerning islands from a number of socio-cultural positions, in past and present contexts. We are eager to join the discussion on whether the islands that are being researched are being placed geographically, discursively, or both, as framed in the field of Island Studies. Is islandness primarily a symbolic category that constructs the utopian imagination of islands? Can it be understood as a process constituted through the experiences of living in the context of insularity? Or is there another way of interpreting islandness? The public fascination with heritage has impacted islands in manifold ways; we invite a discussion of the representations and commodifications of islands, especially regard to the tourist industry. We would further like to discuss different types of local engagement with heritage and the related identification processes. In which ways does the heritagisation process influence islandness and is insularity utilised in cultural and touristic representations of islands? Both theoretical contributions and presentations of empirical research are welcome.