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Scotland and Islandness

Explorations in Community, Economy and Culture


Edited By Kathryn A. Burnett, Ray Burnett and Michael Danson

Scotland’s islands are diverse, resourceful and singularly iconic in national and global imaginations of places «apart» yet readily reached. This collection of essays offers a fascinating commentary on Scotland’s island communities that celebrates their histories, cultures and economies in general terms. Recognising a complex geography of distinct regions and island spaces, the collection speaks to broader themes of tangible and intangible cultural heritage, narratives of place and people, the ideas and policies of island and regional distinctiveness, as well as particular examinations of literature, language, migration, land reform, and industry. With a view to placing ideas and expressions of islandness within a lived reality of island life and scholarship, the collection provides a multidisciplinary perspective on the value of continued and expanding research commentaries on Scotland’s islands for both a Scottish and an international readership. 

This book should instantly appeal to scholars of Island Studies, Scottish Studies, and Regional Studies of northern and peripheral Europe. Readers with particular interests in the sociology and history of Scottish rural and northern Atlantic communities, the cultural histories and economies of remote and island places, and the pressing socioeconomic agenda of small island sustainability, community building and resilience should also find the collection offers current commentaries on these broad themes illustrated with local island examples and contingencies.

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Chapter 1 Scotland and Islandness: Explorations in Community, Economy and Culture (Kathryn A. Burnett, Ray Burnett and Mike Danson)



1.Scotland and Islandness: Explorations in Community, Economy and Culture

Over almost two millennia, Scotland’s western and northern isles have had complex and conflicting relationships both with the kingdom of Scotland and with the ensuing stateless nation that has its own issue with its neighbour on the ‘fractured island’ (Burnett 2013) that is the contested terrain of Britain. A feature of the global pursuit of ‘island studies’ in all diversity and unresolved complexities (Shima Editorial Board 2007; Baldacchino 2008, 2018; Grydehøj 2013a 2013b) is its inter-disciplinarity, something which this contribution from Scotland reflects and celebrates. In offering comment on current and past research activity on island matters this collection of chapters speaks to the wider range of Scottish island related themes, topics and issues evolving from research legacies that are rich, varied and buoyant, and from which there is much to yet discover and to celebrate more fully.

This edited collection of chapters offers a collective commentary on the islands of Scotland, or to be more precise Scotland’s inhabited islands. Contributors variously invite exploration and reflection on examples of island history, community and culture, from the past and today. The collection offers some examination of key policies for the socio-economic wellbeing of viable communities and how a prescient context of strategies for sustainability in the local and global context of small island communities remains a source of debate, research, innovation and inspiration throughout Scotland’s island communities....

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