19 May 2022 - 20 May 2022  |  Philipp Schorch & Frank Heidemann

Doing islandness

LMU Munich

Throughout the rich presentations and discussions of the first Thinking through islandness workshop, it appeared as problematic to think through islandness as a noun, in isolation and without considering it in conjunction with an action word or verb. Deploying islandness alone might lead to essential, timeless and categorical demarcations and claims, which would contradict the empirical ambitions we pursue. Instead, we shall examine the processes through which islandness becomes constituted, and the practices through which it becomes enacted. We therefore proposed adjusting our frame of reference by zooming in on the doing of islandness, which offers several advantages for our purposes. First, an adjusted focus on doing implies practices and processes, which can be investigated through a variety of methods: ethnographic, historical, discursive, visual and so on. The doing itself is empirical and historical, that is, the practices and processes of islandness can be undone and redone. This approach makes sense for us, as we are interested in the lived realities and temporalities of islandness. Second, the suggested refinement is also meaningful on the metaphorical plane as ideas of islands or island settings, which inform the experiences of islandness among islanders, can also be undone and redone. These imaginative artifacts are human products subject to change, travel and individual interpretation and modification. We set out to contribute to the literature through our work on doing islandness with its dual empirical and metaphorical character, which enables us to draw diverse environments - islands, cities, mountain valleys - and regions - the Indian and Pacific Oceans, Highland Asia and Europe - through a common lens.

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