Living on an island: ethnological and cultural anthropological contributions to island studies
Marina Blagaić Bergman
(Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Research)
Paper short abstract:
Based on ethnographic research into the way of life of the inhabitants of the Middle Dalmatian island of Šolta during the 20th and the beginning of the 21st centuries, this paper will discuss the contributions of ethnology and cultural anthropology to Island Studies.
Paper long abstract:
Island Studies has been developed to take into consideration the nature, dynamics and distinctiveness of islands and islanders, as well as their relation to non-island identities. It has been conceived as an interdisciplinary scientific field of deliberation on island life and presents a step towards consolidating knowledge on islands. Taking into consideration the basic assumptions and contentious issues in the field of Island Studies, but also bearing in mind the specificity of Croatian islands and the ethnographic research conducted on the island of Šolta, I will present the possible contributions of ethnology and anthropology to rethinking islandness, insularity, island sociability and mobility. The focus of the analysis is the relationship between the economy and the social life on Šolta, an island located near the Middle Dalmatian city of Split. There are around 1,500 permanent inhabitants on the island, a few hundred weekend residents that arrive regularly and in the summer the number of inhabitants increases six fold. Through ethnographic research the impact of different livelihoods on the dynamics of everyday life has been examined, along with an emphasis on the formation of communities and gender relations, the inhabitants' mobility, and their attitude towards local heritage and related developmental policies. The paper proposes that the basic research questions of island anthropology at the beginning of the 21st century are connected with mobility, imagery and symbolic representations. In this framework, the definitions and interdependency of concepts such as islandness, insularity and island edge are being questioned.
Island ethnographies revisited: challenging utopias, re-evaluating heritage?