‘Poetic storytelling and the context of cultural resilience’: Ray and Kathryn present at Film-Poetry Scotland and Brittany Conference.

At the Hands across the Sea Conference held at An Lanntair in Stornoway (24-25th March 2022) Ray and Kathryn presented their paper “‘Play Me Something’: poetic storytelling and the context of cultural resilience”. This paper offered an exploration from a ‘longer-view’ in regard of subalternity and tensions over both Scottish Gaelic and Breton cultural resilience, minority language and culture expression, as well as salient issues of island identity and place, through the lens of Tim Neat and John Berger’s award-winning film Play Me Something (1989).

“On the small, Gaelic island of Barra, the island’s issues of subalternity and resilience are related in the context of the distant island-city of Venice by a mesmerising storyteller. The latter’s poetic powers simultaneously summons the parallel island voices of tradition and modernity while the Gramscian dimension of his tale implicitly offers an analytical framework with which the creative artist can nurture an innovative approach to cultural resilience and resistance.”

Burnett and Burnett, 2022

For details on the conference: “Film-Poetry, Hybridity and Cultural Resilience in the Scottish Highlands & Islands and Western Brittany” 24-25th March 2022, An Lanntair, Stornoway, Lewis. Organised by the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) and the University of Western Brittany (UBO/HCTI). Organisers: Lindsay Blair (UHI) & Camille Manfredi (UBO/HCTI).

Burnett and Burnett Play Me Something: poetic storytelling and the context of cultural resilience Title SlideMarch 2022

Play Me Something: poetic storytelling and the context of cultural resilience

Ray Burnett, Kathryn Burnett, Scottish Centre for Island Studies, University of the West of Scotland

As in the present 2014 referendum era, so in the earlier pivotal 1979 referendum period, there was a similar identifiable output of creative activity over the ‘national question’ – a struggle over identity and place. A notable feature of the latter was its intermediality, in particular the output of dramatists (John McGrath, 7:84 Scotland) and film-makers (Douglas Eadie, Mike Alexander, Tim Neat) with poets, singers, musicians, tradition-bearers and collectors (Hamish Henderson, Sorley MacLean, Margaret Bennett).

Of particular significance on this salient was the extensive filmic work of Douglas Eadie, Mike Alexander and Tim Neat and their engagement with the poetry, song, music and tradition of Scotland’s Scots and Gaelic communities – a common cause engagement that extended to the minority cultural output of Brittany (Tri Yann, Gilles Servat, Youenn Gwernig Alan Stivell, Claudine Mazéas).

It was progressive artistic work based on a recognition that the promotion of minority languages, cultures and traditions has an inherently political dimension: an alignment in a wider war of position over the contested terrain of land and language that acknowledged a tension between the limiting specifics of grounded community cultural referrals and a necessary engagement beyond, on a wider societal and political field.

This paper explores this tension over cultural resilience through the lens of an award-winning film from this earlier era – Tim Neat and John Berger’s Play Me Something (1989). On the small, Gaelic island of Barra, the island’s issues of subalternity and resilience are related in the context of the distant island-city of Venice by a mesmerising storyteller. The latter’s poetic powers simultaneously summons the parallel island voices of tradition and modernity while the Gramscian dimension of his tale implicitly offers an analytical framework with which the creative artist can nurture an innovative approach to cultural resilience and resistance.

Mr Ray Burnett, Scottish Centre for Island Studies, is a writer and researcher on transnational dimensions of Scotland’s cultural and social history, with particular regard to the highlands and islands, and long-standing engagement with the issues of a subaltern Scotland. (burnett.ray@gmailcom)

Dr Kathryn A. Burnett, Scottish Centre for Island Studies, Senior Lecturer, University of the West of Scotland teaches inter-disciplinary Masters programmes in Creative Arts Practice and Media. Research includes representation of remote and island spaces; Scottish cultural heritage contexts for applied creative practice incl. archives, cultural place narratives, visuality of rurality and its mediatization. (kathryn.burnett@uws.ac.uk)

Sharing here a great opportunity for young island filmmakers!

Young Islander film-making training available from Screen Argyll and Scottish Islands Federation #creativemedia #scottishislands #islandstories

Follow Screen Argyll; Follow Scottish Islands Federation for more fantastic opportunities and activity!

As part of the Young Islanders Film Festival 2021 there is a fantastic industry training opportunity to be had – its online and its free. So if you are aged 12 – 25 years and living on a Scottish island and film is your passion then give this a go!

Saturday 28th August 2021, 11.30 – 12.30pm

For booking and more details: Young Islanders Film Festival – The Scottish Islands Federation (scottish-islands-federation.co.uk)

“What to know more about jobs and learn ways of getting into the Film Industry? Join us for this brilliant session with Sara Harkins. Sara will give an overview of the wide breadth of roles, skills and pathways into the Industry, which will include top tips and your chance to ask her questions.

Sara Harkins Sara has worked in the industry for 30 years, working as a freelancer and then at the BBC, primarily in drama and children’s on projects. She is now Training Manager at Outlander and the Executive Producer of the children’s drama Molly and Mack and working with Screen Scotland to develop their Skills and Training strategy.

“Whichever way I look I see a clouded horizon”: Compton Mackenzie SCIS Research Paper at MeCCSA 2019

MECCSA 2019, University of Stirling


Kathryn A. Burnett, University of the West of Scotland and Ray Burnett, Scottish Centre for Island Studies

“Whichever way I look I see a clouded horizon” wrote Mackenzie once of his uneasy relationship with the island of Herm, in the English Channel.  D.H. Lawrence’s tale (pub.1928) of the “the man who loved  islands” is reputed to be greatly informed by the complex affections and affectations of  – amongst many descriptors – writer, broadcaster, activist, and resolute islophile Compton Mackenzie.  The “topos of the island explores and creates bridges between the real and the imaginary” state Stephanides and Bassett (2008) but crucially also between “genres and disciplines ”. This paper deploys a retrospective lens through the post-war iconography of Whisky Galore (1949 Dir., Mackendrick), offering a pivoting multi-disciplinary perspective of Mackenzie ’s time in the Hebrides, as well as  his “island time” spent elsewhere. With reference to Mackenzie’s own memoirs – not least  of his time among the “aristocrats of democracy” – and his considerable published works, as well as media accounts and broadcast archive, off-shore socio-political questions will be asked of onshore cultural policy, and of continuing  dialogues of ‘remoteness’, ‘islandness’, independence and nationhood today.


Islandness: Identity and Independence Panel MECCSA 2019

MECCSA 2019 (Media, Communications and Cultural Studies Association) Annual Conference, University of Stirling

SCIS blackIslandness: Identity and Independence Panel proposer: Dr Kathryn A Burnett, University of the West of Scotland;  Contributors Mr Tony Grace,  Mr Ray Burnett and Dr Kathryn A. Burnett; Chair: Dr Sarah Neely, University of Stirling.

This Scottish Centre for Island Studies panel contribution is offered in close reflection of the 40th anniversary of MacDiarmid’s death in 1978, and the 90th anniversary of the formation of the National Party of Scotland, which involved both MacDiarmid and Mackenzie. 2019 itself is the 50th anniversary of the release of the iconic island film ‘Whisky Galore’ based on Compton Mackenzie’s celebrated novel. This film continues to offer a set of island tropes that signify both Scottishness and Britishness as well as the ‘national antisyzgies’ of cultural authenticities, the islandness complicities of place and people and the mediated complexities of remoteness, connectedness and independences. A further thematic of ‘island and national liberty’ draws on archival records and new film practice celebrating the ‘father of biography’ James Boswell, and his celebrated accounts of ‘tours’ including the Hebrides (1773) with Johnson, as well as his earlier account of Corsica and most particularly its independence movement.

We are delighted to be working in partnership with The Boswell Trust and hope to revisit aspects of this themed panel later in the year as part of the Boswell Trust’s event and celebrations diary 2019.

BT logo

Book now! A fantastic line-up for Scottish Centre for Geopetics and UHI: Expressing the Earth conference, Argyll – June 2017

Scottish Geopoetics image

A Trans-disciplinary Conference the Scottish Centre for Geopoetics in collaboration with the University of the Highlands and Islands Seil, Easdale, Kilmartin and Luing, Argyll
22-24 June 2017
Call for Engagement: https://www.facebook.com/events/1254649587891661/
Creative workshops, presentations, papers and performances
‘Geopoetics is concerned, fundamentally, with a relationship to the earth and the
opening of a world’.
The Scottish Centre for Geopoetics and the University of the Highlands and Islands
will host Expressing the Earth in Argyll 2017 to bring together creative artists,
musicians, poets and film makers along with academics, researchers, students and
teachers to explore, create and debate the earth and the environment in this
spectacular area of Scotland.
‘Atlantic space, the west coast of Europe, is characterised in the first instance by
fragmentation … a multitude, a proliferation of islands and peninsulas separated
by difficult waters. It is a territory of dispersion and precariousness – but each
fragment is exact in itself, there is no confusion in this plurality. In a word, unity
is not something given, to be taken for granted, it has to be composed.’ (Kenneth
White, 2004)
Expressing the Earth will look to the multitude and proliferation of the islands
and peninsulas and address the ways in which people are influenced and brought
together by these features from the Neolithic and Bronze Age, early Celtic Christian
heritage and seafaring history to more recent industrial exploitation of the
Slate Islands.
Themes and activities, rooted in Geopoetics, include literature, history, visual
arts, film making, archaeology, geology, geography and theology – with active engagement and creative outcomes as central to the conference as academic papers
and presentations.

The conference will take place at the Seil Island Hall in Argyll with field activities
also in Kilmartin Glen, Easdale Island and the Isle of Luing. Poetry readings, musical
performances and social gatherings will play a key part in the conference programme
and it is intended that publications and exhibitions will follow.

The full programme is detailed here: http://www.geopoetics.org.uk/

The Remotest Community in the World

 50th Anniversary Commemoration of the Resettlement of Tristan Da Cunha (1963-2013)

Image courtesy of British Pathe
Image courtesy of British Pathe

Scottish Centre for Island Studies

Friday 1st November 2013

Wellington Suite, Grand Central Hotel, Glasgow

(Please note: This event is now FULL. No further places are available.)

This day event offers a programme of research talks, archive film screenings and individual commentaries each relating to the island community of Tristan da Cunha.

In 1961 the island’s volcano erupted and the entire community were forced to leave Tristan for safety with no prospect of certain return. The plight of the Tristan islanders was a global media event. Their story is one that intrigued and invited comment in terms of our ideas of island living, remoteness and sustainability in the changing times of the early 1960s. These ideas continue to inform how we think and represent island communities today here in Scotland, and beyond. The Tristanians were offered immediate refuge in Scotland, with Shetland playing a pivotal role, but they were actually ‘settled’ in England where they worked and lived for some two years. In 1963 the islanders eventually returned to Tristan to rebuild their lives on this most remote of islands. Today the community continues to thrive and our day invites comment on future cultural and creative responses to live on Tristan.

This UWS research and knowledge exchange event offers a series of talks and archive film and media screenings which each commemorate this remarkable story from the despair of 1961 evacuation to the elation of 1963 resettlement. It also provides an occasion to focus on the present, the successful rebuilding of a sustainable Tristan da Cunha and to invite reflections on 50 years of change on islands here in Scotland, in Tristan, and elsewhere. Our theme for the day is that of the images, the issues, and the reality of small island community life. Our examples are largely drawn from Tristan da Cunha but also from the island communities of Scotland, including the Hebrides and Shetland. A range of speakers including academics, educationalists, film-makers and island community enthusiasts will share experiences and information together with the audience. See running order and details of talks, and screenings here.

09:30 09:40          Welcome and Introductions Scottish Centre for Island Studies

09:40 10:00          Opening Comments: Mr Chris Bates, Tristan da Cunha Government UK Representative

10:15 11:00          Tristan da Cunha ‘The Volcano Years 1961-63’: Media Archive and Representation in  a Scottish Context Dr Kathryn A Burnett, SCIS UWS Chair: Professor Neil Blain, University of Stirling

11:00 11:15          Refreshment Break (15 mins)

11:15 12:00          Tristan da Cunha: Marginalisation, Community and Islandness – the Shetland and Canna dimensions Mr Ray Burnett, SCIS UWS; Chair: Professor Mike Danson, Heriot Watt University

12:00 13:00          Screening: The Forgotten Island (1998) (Dir: Uwe Kersken) 48 mins BBC ”Under the Sun”, followed by a short Q & A

13:00 14:00          Break (60 mins)

14:00 14:30          Illustrated Talk: “Rockhopper Choppers”  Mr Bob Carse, Advisor to Tristan da Cunha Heritage Committee Chair: Mr Chris Bates

14:30 15:15          Screening: The 1991 Jim Kerr videos: a Q & A session on Tristan community life

Mr Jim Kerr, Former Education Officer Tristan da Cunha Chair: Mr Ray Burnett

15:15 15:30          Refreshment Break (15 mins)

15:30 16:00          Illustrated Talk: Island Links – A Royal Society Expedition Link with Barra. 

Mr Alasdair MacEachen, Islands Book Trust Chair: Dr Kathryn A Burnett

16:00 16:30          Screening: ‘Impressions of Tristan by David Mackenzie’

Mr David Mackenzie (Director), Chair: Mr Tony Grace

17:00 17:30          Final Discussion, Close and Thanks

Please note: This event is now FULL. No further places are available.

If you would like to attend this UWS Scottish Centre for Island Studies event then please contact kathryn.burnett@uws.ac.uk to reserve your place, or call Dr Kathryn A Burnett on 01292 886482 with your details.  There is no charge for this event but please note places are limited. Refreshments and a light lunch will be provided for full day attendees. Alternative lunch for purchase is available on site and nearby.   All welcome.

Please note: This event is now FULL. No further places are available.

For directions to the venue please link here: http://www.thegrandcentralhotel.co.uk/location/

Waves – A Portrait of Maria á Heygum (Aldur – Eitt portrett af Mariu á Heygum) 2010

"Waves - A Portrait of Maria á Heygum", 2010 (portrait film).
“Waves – A Portrait of Maria á Heygum”, 2010 (portrait film).

…the story of a Grandmother who swims every day in the sea whatever the weather …

This wonderful short film from Faroese filmaker Heiðrik á Heygum was screened at the recent island studies conference that Mike, Ray and myself attended in Cape Breton, June 2012. The film can be seen here on the youtube link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Skew7cgkW9w

You  can also watch a 5 minute interview with the filmaker talking about the making of this intimate portrait of his 85 year old Grandmother and her relationship with the sea, and her wellbeing. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fY9xePR0OLU


Edge of the World: an exhibition inspired by isolated, untouched or remote landscapes

The Gallery, Masham in the Yorkshire Dales announces Exhibition Preview: Friday, 20th July. Artists are invited to display work inspired by isolated, untouched or remote landscapes that inspire them. The exhibition takes it’s title and the theme’s initial inspiration, from the 1937 film by Michael Powell of the same name, which depicts life on a remote scottish island.
Featuring the work of Gareth Buxton, Lesley Birch, Winifred Hodge, Pamela Knight,  Catherine Sutcliffe-Fuller, Heather Gatt and Ian Scott Massie. For more information on The Gallery, in Masham, and the forthcoming exhibition click here: http://www.mashamgallery.co.uk/edge-of-the-world.html

Screening of Community Media Films: Isle of Bute

Bute Video Project: Screening of Community Media Films

Kirsten MacLeod, PhD Student SCIS

11th December 2011

Four videos produced through the Scottish Centre for Island studies received their premier screening on Sunday 11th December at The Discovery Centre cinema in Rothesay, on the Isle of Bute. The short films were made as part of The Bute Video Project led by doctoral research student and filmmaker Kirsten MacLeod. Kirsten’s practice led research is exploring process, practice and participation in community based media. The project aimed to stimulate local video production on the island, feeding into an emergent local media production scene on Bute. 

The films reflected the filmmakers local interests – Rhubodach Forest by Kathryn Kerr – about Rhubodach forest on Bute which was part of a community land buyout; Rothesay Shops by Ann Russell featuring Rothesay’s eclectic and independent high street shops & their owners; Bute Guitar Festival by Chris Corrin on the importance of music on the island, and festivals such as the recent “Big F” Guitar Festival, and Cathy McLean’s My Rothesay – a very personal reflection on moving to the island. 

The films were part of the Bute Film Society’s Local Filmmaker’s night. Other locally based filmmakers featured included wildlife cameraman Philip Lovell, ex BBC producer Brian Barr, and independent producers Lesley Anne Morrison and Greg McNeill of Big Baby Productions. 

Kirsten’s PhD research, (supervised by Dr Kathryn A Burnett, and Mr Tony Grace, UWS),  has also included practice led fieldwork in Govan, Glasgow and a general survey of community media production in the Outer Hebrides.

The Bute project is ongoing, and developing, and is now being taken forward by some of the filmmakers themselves. There will be further screenings of the films in 2012 and they will be available to view online shortly. For more information please contact kirsten.macleod@uws.ac.uk

The project received the support of the Scottish Centre for Island Studies, The University of the West of Scotland and Bute Connections. 

Many thanks to all who contributed to the films and took part.

‘Hallaig’ film screening and talk, Isle of Skye, June 2011

On June 16th the Scottish Centre for Island Studies, University of the West of Scotland and Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the National Centre for Gaelic Language and Culture,  will host a three day event, Ainmeil Thar Cheudan – Renowned over Hundreds, honouring MacLean’s legacy.  As part of this celebration  the event offers a screening of  Somhairle MacGill-Eain: A Bhàrdachd agus A Shealladh, the 1986 BBC Alba Gaelic version (sub-titled) of Hallaig: the poetry and landscape of Sorley MacLean directed by Timothy Neat. The screening will feature a short talk  by the director Timothy Neat, introduced by Ray Burnett, Honorary Research Fellow, Scottish Centre for Island Studies, University of the West of Scotland.

The event is sponsored by Morrison Construction, Scottish Islands Writers Network, Creative Scotland and Scotland’s Islands.

Anyone interested in attending the event should visit the Sabhal Mòr Ostaig website www.smo.uhi.ac.uk  or telephone 01471 888000.

Ainmeil Thar Cheudan: A Centenary Celebration of Sorley MacLean (1911-2011)

Ainmeal Thar Cheudan

A Centenary Celebration of Sorley MacLean (1911-2011)

Thursday 16 – Saturday 18 June 2011
Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, Isle of Skye

In commemoration of the centenary of the birth of Sorley MacLean (1911 – 1996) Sabhal Mòr Ostaig and the Scottish Centre for Island Studies, Faculty of Business and Creative Industries, University of the West of Scotland invite you to join in a celebration of his life, work and legacy.

It is anticipated that this event will offer a range of academic and creative responses to Sorley’s cultural and political legacy with particular attention to his deep roots and referencing of island culture, history and experience. Furthermore, this proposed event will explore, with both established and more recently introduced scholars and artists, the significance and importance of Sorley MacLean within the wider context of the national culture of Scotland, the cultural terrain of the Highlands and Islands, and the cultural engagement of the 20th century Scottish left.

The academic focus will be a two day event structured around a selection of papers and discussion panels, as well as performance and creative practice activity detailing both Sorley’s own work and his inspiration to others.

In keeping with the internationalist perspectives that permeate Sorley’s own work, the event will be framed as an opportunity to offer an appreciation of what experiences and understanding of island life and culture, and of an island sense of place and dwelling, specifically but not exclusively in reference to Scotland, informed Sorley in his creative work and commentary.

Online Booking: Access  event website at http://www.smo.uhi.ac.uk/A-Cholaiste/Naidheachdan/somhairle/index_en.html


‘The Furthest Hebrides’: Critical reach from contested shores: Kathryn Burnett and Ray Burnett deliver to IGU 2010 Conference, island of Ven, Sweden

Finding Their Place: Islands in Social Theory

The Island of Ven, Sweden, 27–30 August, 2010

ABSTRACTS PARALLEL PAPER SESSION B1: Identity, culture, tradition and knowledge



 ‘The Furthest Hebrides’ : Critical reach from contested shores

Kathryn A Burnett & Ray Burnett

University of the West of Scotland, UK


Scotland’s islands are paradoxically peripheral yet conceptually central to an

understanding of the layered complexity of issues relating to land and identity in

contemporary 21 st  century Scotland. Through a specific focus on Scotland’s

western isles, this paper traces the authoring of the layered constructions and

reconstructions of space and place that has produced a dense and variegated

palimpsest; the process of the ‘making’ of the Hebrides. It examines visual and

documentary representations to draw out some of the issues of ‘belonging’ and

ownership, appropriation and dissemination, in the context of the nationalidentitarian

functions of culture, that are embedded in the complimentary and

contradictory ‘ways of seeing’ the contested terrain of island cultural landscape(s).

Through a grounded multi-disciplinary approach to the issues raised and the

exemplars elaborated on, the paper opens up several overlapping and inter-related

issues of concentric and conflicting identities, delineation of the field of cultural

discourse, the inscription of meaning and value and the production of cultural

landscapes, and the deeper processes of complicity, self colonialism and


The paper concludes by advocating that a detailed study of how these processes

of ‘making’ are mediated at local (island), national (Scottish) and supra-national

(UK) level opens up new channels for further research in the intricate waters of

the cultural dynamics of authorship, ownership, ‘belonging’ and power in the

politics of land and identity.

Ray Burnett delivers on ‘Pelle the Conqueror: Reflections on History, the Arts and Small Islands’

Ray Burnett, SCIS Hon. Research Fellow,  will deliver a plenary session paper at the ISISA 2010 conference at the Bornholm Art Museum. The paper entitled “Commemorating Pelle the Conqueror: Reflections on History, the Arts and Small Islands” is part of the wider programme of delivery of this years conference. For details of all papers and sessions click here: http://www.conferencemanager.dk/ISISA/program.html

The abstract for Ray’s paper can be read here:

Commemorating Pelle the Conqueror: Reflections on History, the Arts and Small Islands

Ray Burnett

Isle of Benbecula, Outer Hebrides, Scotland

Scottish Centre for Island Studies, University of the West of Scotland


The life and times of the writer Martin Andersen Nexø is most often presented and discussed either in the context of his literary career as a major Scandinavian novelist of the twentieth century or his political career as a prominent cultural figure in Europe’s anti-fascist struggles, a committed member of the Danish Communist Party and a resolute defender of the Soviet Union. In each of these overlapping contexts his significance for Danish, Scandinavian and European literature, culture and politics is enduringly associated with his classic novel, Pelle the Conqueror. Published over 1906-1910, it vividly drew on Martin Andersen Nexø’s deep memories of his childhood and formative years on Bornholm and the island town of Nexø which he later took as his adopted name. This paper commemorates the centenary of the publication of the final volume of Pelle the Conqueror by approaching Martin Andersen Nexø from a specifically island studies perspective to raise the question: in what way might his portrayal of island life be of relevance to issues of culture, history and the arts in small islands beyond Bornholm, the Baltic and Scandinavia?

It offers some tentative reflections on this question by identifying some of the themes in Nexo’s portrayal of Baltic island life and tracing their applicability to comparable themes and issues in the small island communities of Scotland through a specific focus on history and the arts, reality and representations, in the Hebrides. The paper seeks to confirm the importance of Martin Andersen Nexø as a writer and observer of small island life and to raise awareness of the wider comparative significance of other writers and artists from within Scotland’s small island communities. It concludes with the reflection that there are several aspects of comparative small island research in relation to history and the arts, both within a specific Scottish-Nordic-Baltic arc and beyond, that would benefit from further collaborative engagement.

From the Hebrides to Herm


See images here of the trip to the island of Herm during the conference.  Compton MacKenzie lived on the island of  Herm from 1920-1923. See here for some additional images and details of his time on the island and neighbouring Jethou. http://www.ciss1950.org.uk/herm_postcards.html or  for some information on the tenants of Jethou, including MacKenzie, see this link http://www.faed.net/cfaed/jethou/jethou.htm

A co-authored paper (Ray Burnett and Kathryn A Burnett)  on  the legacy and influence Compton MacKenzie and other writers and film makers have had on the  iconography and representation of  Scotland’s Hebrides was delivered by Ray Burnett, Hon. Research Fellow, School of Creative and Cultural Industries,  to the SICRI 2010 ART AND ISLANDS ISLOMANIA CONFERENCE  conference in Guernsey.

SCIS Paper on Compton MacKenzie delivered to SICRI conference 2010


A co-authored paper (Ray Burnett and Kathryn A Burnett) was delivered by Ray Burnett on behalf of SCIS to the SICRI 2010 ART AND ISLANDS ISLOMANIA CONFERENCE  conference in Guernsey. The paper –  “Portaying the Hebrides: the irresistible lure and the irredeemable legacy” – offers a critical examination of the life and work of Compton Mackenzie in relation to the wider representation of islands.  The abstract for the paper is available below.  A version of this paper was delivered to the June 18th 2010 SCIS Research Meeting and Seminar, UWS. Thanks to colleagues for their comments.

From the 18th century to the present, the islands that lie off the western seaboard of Scotland, collectively known as the Hebrides, have been one of the foremost island groups in Europe to attract the attention of artists and to acquire a substantial volume of cultural representations of their landscape, environment, people and communities, in literature, music, song, the visual arts, photography and film. Restricting itself to artistic representations in literature and film this paper examines the formulation and the legacy of two recurring and influential tropes of cultural representation of these islands ─ the ‘Hebridean Other’ and ‘Solitude and Desertion’.

The literary prism for this close focus study is provided by the life and work of Compton Mackenzie, the islomanic inspiration for D. H. Lawrence’s short story, ‘The Man Who Loved Islands’. MacKenzie’s lifelong attraction to islands involved successive periodic residency on acquired island properties from Capri in Italy, to Herm and Jethou in the Channel Islands and the Shiants and Barra in the Hebrides. The screen adaptations of MacKenzie’s Hebridean novels and the acclaimed Hebridean classics of the Michael Powell / Emeric Pressberger partnership provide the filmic prism.

The paper discusses the twin tropes of the ‘Hebridean Other’ and ‘Solitude and Desertion’ with specific reference to key iconic cultural representations, the novel/film adaptation Whisky Galore! (1947/1949 and the films The Edge of the World (1937) and I Know Where I’m Going (1945). It reflects on the enduring consequences of this cultural legacy for the island locations and communities with which they are associated, Barra, Eriskay, St Kilda, Mull and its adjacent isles in relation to the cultural referential framework they created. And it concludes by tracing the far-reaching and continuing reverberations in relation to ongoing issues relating to the cultural and symbolic capital of the islands.