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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 6 Regional and Island Economies of Peripheries and Margins: ‘Nordic and Celtic’ Comparisons (Mike Danson)



6.Regional and Island Economies of Peripheries and Margins: ‘Nordic and Celtic’ Comparisons

The northern and western peripheries of Celtic and Nordic Europe, and particularly their highlands and islands, face some of the most difficult geographies and environments in the continent (Danson and de Souza 2012). They share common challenges of marginality, out-migration, demographic imbalances, higher costs and a lack of economies of scale and scope as well as unique environmental assets and concerns. These tend to be exacerbated and intensified for island locations as challenges for transportation, logistics, connectivity of energy and other factors of production and consumption raise costs and reduce choices for residents and enterprises alike (Burnett and Danson 2017). Climate emergencies and related severe weather events are exaggerating some aspects of these negative forces for island economies and societies (Fazey et al. 2018) so that looking at the prospects for these communities on the peripheries and margins has become ever more pressing in recent times. Further, the national and geographical contexts vary across these communities offering different lessons, responses, prospects and potential for learning from strategic and policy interventions.

Social capital and human resources tend to be thinly stretched in isolated locations, and the increasing and broadening demands and opportunities offered over the last century to islanders within wider national and global contexts have encouraged long-established communities to abandon islands in Scotland (Clements and Clements 2019), Faroes (Coull 1967), Ireland (Nic Craith 2019) and elsewhere (Watson 1998). Revealing and...

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