CLIMAVORE: On Tidal Zones’ October block of programming will take stock of the project’s history over the past five years, celebrating local partnerships, conversations, alternative ingredients, economy, industry and looking at the climate crisis. We aim to acknowledge the complexed, nuanced interspecies relationships between ourselves, the coasts and of course (inter)tidal zones.
We have a series of events throughout October in relation to this, which you can find here:
MA Creative Media Practice student Julia Tirkkonen will exhibit her photography as part of the wider creative and cultural events being held in Turku, Finland to celebrate the Turku Sea Jazz festival and the wider Archipelago Sea Jazz concept. The first Turku Sea Jazz event will be held at the atmospheric Ruissalo Boatyard during the last weekend of July (30-31st July, 2021).
Exhibiting for the first time, Julia’s 2021 Masters Project work will be shown along with other established artists at the boatyard as part of the wider Turku sea jazz festival. Julia’s creative practice details her exploration of Finnish landscape as sea, islands and coastal fringe developed for her final MA Creative Project. A further solo exhibition in Helsinki is planned for Autumn 2021. Julia’s work on the Baltic Sea, islands and coast is supervised by Dr Kathryn A. Burnett, Division of Arts and Media, UWS.
“Nature is a very important part of my everyday life, and now that I’ve moved to the southern coast of Finland I have become more familiar with the Baltic Sea, its beauty, and the issues it faces. I decided I want to bring more attention to that through my art, and the MA Creative Media Practice course has been a perfect place for me to develop my skills not only as a nature photographer but also in producing art exhibitions and taking my creative practice to a more professional level.”
“Little Islands at the Edge of the Ocean” – Celebrating ColmCille 1500
by Ray Burnett
Scotland’s islandscapes are a variegated multiplicity of intricate and ceaselessly shifting combination of land, sea, and seaways. Each offers a bifocal physical and cultural prism, a ‘way of seeing’, through which individual and communal sense of place, identity and islandness expresses itself and societal relations of power and authority, dominance and subalternity map themselves out on a contested maritime terrain.
As explored further (Burnett 2021) in the Scotland and Islandness book edited edition, the earliest recorded layer of Scotland’s islandscape can be considered as that of the 6th to 8th centuries, when the protohistory of the late Atlantic Iron Age overlapped with the Early Christian era – the ‘Age of the Saints’, the age of the Word.[i] Confined to the islandscapes of the Hebrides, the essay sought to trace and tease out some aspects of this period through a specific focus on ‘islandness’.
One of the premises underpinning Scotland and Islandness was an awareness of the significant contribution our islands and island communities have made to the cultural, political, and social history, not just of Scotland, but of the wider transnational world of Europe and beyond.[ii] A significant dimension of this has been the enduring residual culture legacy of the Early Christian era. Over two millennia of settlement history, successive generations of scholars, bards, story-tellers and community tradition-bearers have ensured that a cultural palimpsest of multi-layered texts and lore, traditions and arts, practices and beliefs, has accumulated across Scotland’s far reach of islandscapes.
In concluding his Life of St Columba, Adomnán of Iona wrote that it was no small favour conferred by God that ‘one who dwelt on this little island on the edge of the ocean’ should have earned a reputation that had reached across the three corners of Spain and Gaul and Italy beyond the Alps, even to Rome itself, ‘the chief of all cities.’[iii] Paradoxically, assessing fully the significance of the Early Christian era across all of the Hebrides involves acknowledging a critical paradigm shift: a move away from seeing everything from an Iona, Columban and Dal Riata perspective. Two important projects, both accessible online, are important in this regard.
The Papar Project
The Papar Project originated in a 2001 conference on the theme of ‘The papar in the North Atlantic: Environment and History’. It focuses on a distinctive feature of the Early Christian era in both the Western and Northern Isles (and Iceland), namely, island place names containing the word papar (a reference to priests or monks). The names are to be found in a great arc from Papil, Unst in Shetland, through Pabail, Lewis and Pabaigh, the Barra Isles in the Outer Hebrides, to Pabay on Skye and Papadil on Rùm. Significantly none are to be found in the Argyll islands, south of Ardnamurchan Point.
These place names derived from the legacy of Norse incursions into Scotland’s seaways and islands but what was the nature and purpose of the early Christian presence the Norse would encounter? Were the settlers of these places followers of a cenobitic or eremitic monastic life, or priests present in a pastoral capacity? In the latter context, an important dimension of the papar project was its environmental focus, including close examination of the origin, formation and function of anthropogenic raised soils, an evident link to agriculture (see Simpson et al., The Papar Project: agricultural assessment).
The project also considered the nature of the Norse impact on the ‘papar’ and the final detailed report on The Hebrides(following an earlier report on the Northern Isles) is of considerable importance in relation to the nature of secular island settlement in the Hebrides in the latter part of the Early Christian era as well as the spiritual and ecclesiastical dimension of the Hebridean islandscape.
Eòlas nan Naomh, ‘Saints of the Uists’ is an initiative launched in 2018 between Glasgow University Celtic Department and Ceòlas, the community charity based in South Uist dedicated to the promotion of the Gaelic language and Gaelic culture of the Uists. Much smaller in scale and tighter in focus than the Papar project, this study from an island studies perspective is no less important. From its university base, the Glasgow University contribution has been to draw together current academic studies on the early and medieval Christianity of Uist; to identify sites and placenames of interest in regard to the latter and to discuss the saints associated with these sites in the Uists. It has been a deep and extensive enquiry and the detailed information already collated online at Eòlas nan Naomhprovides an excellent digital platform to enable the project team to take forward their principal aim: ‘to stimulate further discussions on the sites in question and the role of the Uists in the early Christianity of the Western Isles’.
The Eòlas nan Naomh online resource illuminates in readily accessible form a key historical era of Scottish island studies and the Eòlas nan Naomh Project Introduction essay should be regarded as ‘Essential Reading’ with its comprehensive accompanying Bibliography providing an excellent link for those interested in further ‘Recommended Reading’.
This wealth of academic work on Uist hagiotoponyms has been augmented by the parallel community cultural work of Ceòlas. With a focus on the early saints whose dedications and traditions are prominent in the Uists – Cainneach, Donnan, Brìde, Donnan, for example – the Early Uist Saints Project has been collecting and recording information on these saints as transmitted through the oral tradition and indigenous knowledge of the predominantly Gaelic-speaking island communities of Uist. This work on the islandscape of ‘the saints of Uist’ thereby provides an integral community framework through which the deep knowledge of locality and oral history of the Uists can be celebrated and disseminated.
Ceòlas has described this work as a contribution to Slighe Chaluim Chille, the Columba Trail, a project that seeks to raise awareness of the legacy of St Columba across the competing representations in the religious history of Ireland and Scotland. Through a focus on Derry, a city with deep Columban associations, Màiréad Nic Craith (Nic Craith 2013) has traced the reshaping of these divergent historical narratives in a contemporary setting. Contextualising the emergence of a fresh narrative that seeks to redefine the Columban city of Derry ‘as a common heritage space for a previously divided people’, the study underlines the contribution such initiatives can make in the distinct cultural context of Scotland and most especially the Hebrides.
Colmcille 1500: A feast for Scottish island focus
Over 2021 in Ireland (the country of Columba’s birth and formative years) and Scotland (the country of his exile and death) the 1500th anniversary of his birth is being celebrated through a rolling calendar of diverse events, many online, organised under the rubric of Colmcille 1500 (521-2021). The rich programme of online public lectures and wider research commentaries are all of interest but in relation to the Scottish islands, particularly but not exclusively the Hebrides, and as 9th June – the Feast Day of St Columba of Iona approaches – three contributions focusing specifically upon island place and islandness invite particular mention.
The first is an article by Gilbert Márkus, a distinguished scholar in this field in the current (May 2021) Innes Review. In ‘Four blessings and a funeral: Adomnán’s theological map of Iona’ Márkus examines the last chapter of Adomnán’s Vita sancti Columbae (i.e. his Life of St Columba) which is devoted entirely to Columba’s movements around Iona in the final days of his life. In this account he elicits the spiritual themes and outlines how they are structured spatially, revealing Adomnán’s mental map of the island. Adomnán thereby invites the reader to see how salvation is revealed in time and space, in movement, and in dwelling within the spatial order of an islandscape established by Columba’s blessings.
The second recommendation is to draw attention to the public lectures series Colm Cille 1500: Téacsanna agus Traidisiúin / Columba 1500: Texts and Traditions that the Royal Irish Academy will be running from 25 August to 13 October 2021. The full programme, available here contains much of relevance to the ‘Age of the Saints’ in Scotland. One contribution of particular interest from a Scottish island studies perspective, however is the lecture by Professor Thomas Owen Clancy, University of Glasgow entitled Tír, tráig, tuile, ‘Land, strand and tide’: Colum Cille’s voice and the poetics of place’, to be given on 8th September 2021.
Thirdly, Professor Jonathan Wooding, Honorary Professor, Medieval and Early Modern Centre, University of Sydney will deliver a lecture as part of the Trinity College, Dublin Columcille in Context programme on 29 June 2021 entitled Peregrinatio in the Careers of Columcille and his Monastic Family. As is made clear by Jonathan Wooding in his lecture abstract, it is a contribution of direct relevance to the Scottish islands and the notion of ‘islandness’. The presentation will examine instances of peregrinatio in the western Scottish and Atlantic islands from the 6th to the 9th century by which time Columban monks were making voyages to islands lying far to the north and north-west. The contribution will consider the different theological ideas that are found in the accounts of these journeys, as well as their implications for studies of settlement, including recent fieldwork in Iceland.
Each lecture is in a programme of virtual events that are accessible online. They promise to be of great interest in this celebratory ColmCille 1500 year and beyond.
Márkus, G. 2021 ‘Four blessings and a funeral: Adomnán’s theological map of Iona’, The Innes Review 72 (1): 1–26 DOI: 10.3366/inr.2021.0279.
Nic Craith, M. 2013 ‘Living Heritage and Religious Traditions Reinterpreting Columba/Colmcille in the UK City of Culture’ Anthropological Journal of European Cultures, 22 (1): 42-58 DO1: 10.3167/ajec.2013.220104.
Simpson, I.A., Crawford, B. and Ballin Smith, B. (n.d). Papar place-names in the Northern and Western Isles of Scotland: A preliminary assessment of their association with agricultural land potential. Access online at: The Papar Project: agricultural assessment.
Links to ColmCille 1500 Lectures Series and Events detailed:
[i] Although there is a vast legacy of prehistoric settlement in the islands, it is only with the named places, people of the AIA and the oral and written history and tradition of the EC era that a sense of attached across the centuries begins.
[ii] This ‘contribution’ has been unquestionably negative as well as positive not least for other global island communities over the European colonization and British imperial eras.
[iii] Sharpe, R. (1995), Adomnán of Iona, Life of St Columba, Harmondsworth, p. 233
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.
Registration from 9:30 am
Venue: The Technology and Innovation Centre, University of Strathclyde
This event aims to evaluate the current policy and practice of land reform in line with aspirations of social justice and with particular focus on forestry and energy. Bringing together experienced land reform researchers, journalists and public representatives, with community organisations and energy, labour and law academics.
There will be talks from Andy Wightman, MSP, Lesley Riddoch, author; Peter Peacock, former MSP and land reform campaigner; and Angela Williams from the Knoydart Foundation and Director of Community Land Scotland. Followed by panel and audience discussion with contributions from Tiffany Kane, Operations Manager, organiser and campaigner for Common Weal and Kathryn A. Burnett, School of Media, Culture and Society, University of the West of Scotland is Co-Director of the Scottish Centre for Island Studies<https://scotcis.wordpress.com/about/>.
The event is supported by Scottish Universities Insight Institute and is dedicated to the memory of John Booth of the Isle of Eigg renewable energy system. We are delighted to be joined by representatives from the island at the event
Who should attend?
We encourage all with an interest in land reform, community energy, forestry and tackling social inequality to attend.
This is an event that is open to the public.
Benefits of attending
This events brings together some of the most respected voices in Scottish Land reform along with community representatives and researchers who have been focusing on localised energy and forestry projects. This promises to be a provocative session that places the idea of social justice firmly at the centre the debate designed to inform future policy and practice.
Department of Work, Employment & Organisation
University of Strathclyde, Glasgow
There will be a meeting of the Scottish Centre for Island Studies on Thursday 5th July 2018 at UWS Paisley Campus (Room J251). The meeting will include updates on current SCIS related projects. It will also provide an opportunity for discussion around new links and for proposed new activity.
*Apologies – we have moved the venue to Paisley UWS campus as CCA room is currently unavailable.
Invitation to Research Seminar Creativity and Culture HUB,
School of Media, Culture and Society
Wednesday 17th January 2018
14:00- 15:00 UWS Ayr Campus GT 45
A/Prof. Evangelia Papoutsaki, UNITEC, New Zealand
Mapping Small Island Communicative Ecologies
Islands have a unique micro-communicative ecology makeup and distinctiv geographical and socio-cultural identities. This research seminar introduces the concept of island communicative ecology illustrated with examples from research conducted in several islands in the Pacific region.
The communicative ecology approach refers to the various forms, resources, activities, channels and flows of communication and information used by an island or group of islands or communities within islands. Mapping as a methodology enables a broader comprehension of the complexity of specific island communities and allows for the exploration of the various types of communication activity island people are engaged in (locally, trans-locally, intra-island, inter-island, trans-peripheral, national etc.), the resources available and the understanding of how these can be used in sustaining island communities.
In this seminar, several borrowed concepts, theories, terms and approaches from communication studies will be explored within an island context: communicative ecology, and communicative ecology layers (social, technological, discursive), communication infrastructure theory, communication action, storytelling network and storytelling agents, rhizomas and community media.
The presenter explores how the communicative environment forms part of existing island communities’ structures; identifies key communicative practices that contribute to sustaining islands sociocultural cohesion; explores the role of media, in particular community radio, in localized information flows unique to the islands; and identifies future areas of research of value to the field of Islands Studies especially through the application of the communicative ecology mapping approach.
We are delighted to welcome Dr Evangelia Papoutsaki to Ayr campus for this research seminar. This seminar is open to all UWS staff and students and all are very welcome. Please email Lesley-Anne (email@example.com) or myself (firstname.lastname@example.org) for any further information you may require. Evangelia will be delighted to speak with colleagues on any aspect of her global work on media and communication in a range of key sectors and international settings (including diaspora and migrant identities, HIV/Aids, Climate Change, and participatory methods for community engagement). There is time set aside after the seminar for colleagues to meet with Evangelia further.
For further information on Evangelia’s extensive global experience and expertise in media, communication and community research and policy please refer here:
Vulnerability and adaptation to climate change in island communities: engaging participatory approaches to inform community decision-making
Remote islands are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, including sea-level rise, changing weather patterns and their impacts on storminess, coastal erosion, and flooding. Moreover, the particular nuanced contexts of remote rural settings can compound this physical vulnerability, a layer of vulnerability that is not considered in the typical climate change impact studies. This is the case in Scotland, where most climate change impact studies have tended towards a top-down approach, rather than engaging the communities and decision-makers impacted by climate change in the analysis of vulnerabilities. For an effective adaptation policy, local circumstances and characteristics need to be taken into account. An assessment following an integrated perspective on vulnerability, incorporating both top-down and bottom-up components is a mean for capturing this knowledge for decision-making. Moreover, research on policy discourse framings of climate change in remote island settings has value in terms of offering a basis for a critical analysis of dominant representations and narratives and of other competing accounts, as climate change in rural areas occurs in the context of other social, economic and land use and ownership trends.
The aim for this studentship is to develop a climate change adaptation assessment framework suited to participation, integration and collaboration in the context of rural island communities. Rural populations are particularly sensitive to environmental change given their dependence on natural resources. The study offers an opportunity to assess the risks, vulnerabilities and opportunities of climate change through the co-production of knowledge with stakeholders, and to initiate dialogue on climate adaptation. Baseline assessments of climate change vulnerability will be performed to inform the adaptation discourse using an integrated socio-environmental vulnerability assessment methodology in a number of island case study sites in Scotland.
Methodologically the study will build on the established partnerships between the supervisory team and communities in the selected island locations in order to elucidate their perspectives on climate vulnerability and adaptation options. Qualitative data collection and analysis of interviews and other stakeholder-focussed activities are envisaged as being a key part of this. Community engagement work will also be informed by analysis of existing climatic records and of climate change projection.
This studentship will be co-supervised by Dr Alexandre Gagnon and Dr Kathryn A. Burnett, University of the West of Scotland (UWS) and Dr Alistair Geddes, University of Dundee. Dr Massimo Bollasina, Edinburgh University, will also play an advisory role.
This studentship is funded by the Scottish Association for Geosciences, Environment, and Society (SAGES) and UWS and is available from October 2018. Students will receive an annual stipend at the RCUK rate (currently £14,553 per annum) and payment of tuition fees.
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