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).
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. (email@example.com)
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.”
Creating an “Island Space” in the Land of Colmcille
by Professor Mairéad Nic Craith
This year is a special anniversary of Colmcille (also known as Columba). Oral history suggests that Colmcille was born in Gartán in County Donegal around 521 AD. That makes this year his 1500th birthday. Although he was of royal descent, Colmcille decided to dedicate his life to Christianity and was sent to St Finnian’s monastery in County Down. While there, Colmcille secretly copied a book of psalms that Finnian had brought back from Rome. Finnian was angry that a copy had been made without his knowledge and appealed to the High King that the copy was rightfully his, but Colmcille refused to give it up. Tensions between the two monks may have served as the catalyst for the battle of Cúl Drebene where some 3,000 lives were lost. Following the dispute, Columba went into self-imposed, penitential exile, vowing to win as many as 3,000 souls for Christ. He established a new monastery on the Hebridian island of Iona where Conall, the King of Dal Riada, had granted him the site.
It is no accident that the story of Colmcille is still with us today after 1500 years. According to Hallam and Ingold (2008), traditions must be worked at to be sustained. Commemorations of Colmcille go back centuries, but a particularly important milestone occurred in 1997, when the then President of Ireland, Mary Robinson, and a Minister of State in the Scottish Office, Brian Wilson, launched a new initiative commemorating the saint. Mary Robinson spoke about “creating an island space … in which Ireland and Scotland can share what they have in common.” (https://www.president.ie/en/media-library/speeches/signatures-on-our-own-frequency-the-sabhal-mor-ostaig-lecture-by-president) Since then a number of acts of commemoration have occurred. This blog focuses on three of these, with reference to mapping.
The first map, Tír Cholmcille (2003), conceptualised by Roy Pedersen was designed to challenge the way we look at the lands of Ireland and Scotland. We have become so used to looking at maps in a particular way that we forget there are other ways of seeing the world. As Dennis Woods (1992) says of the power of maps, “from their inception, it has been essential that states appear as facts of nature, as real enduring things”. Tír Cholmcille, which can be viewed at https://colmcille.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Colmcille-Map.pdf, puts Ireland and Scotland on one single map. Although there is no change in geography, the map is a radical change in perspective. A change in angle on the map encourages people to look again at the image they have of the two countries and the physical connection between them.
The second map is entitled Slí Cholmcille. The route that together landscapes and communities in Ireland and Scotland which are associated with Colmcille and can be viewed here: https://colmcille.net/st-columba-trail/. The route begins in Ireland, the land of Colmcille’s birth, and ends in Scotland, the land where he is buried. En route, one travels across many islands, beginning with Tory Island, off the coast of Donegal. There is a legend associated with Colmcille on Tory island, suggesting that the island’s ruler initially denied Colmcille permission to build a monastery there. Colmcille sought a compromise and proposed that he only required as much land as would be covered by his cloak. Thinking that he could hardly refuse such a small piece of land, the ruler agreed. However, when Colmcille threw down his cloak, it magically expanded until it covered the entire island. The furious ruler set his vicious dog on Colmcille. When the saint saw the beast coming, he blessed him and asked him to die, which the dog duly did!! When the ruler saw this, he repented and granted permission for Colmcille’s monastery.
Scottish islands which feature on the story map, include Eileach an Naoimh, where tradition holds that Columba’s mother is buried. Iona is the island that is most strongly associated with the saint; following a successful £3.75 million appeal, the the Iona Community’s residential and guest accommodation next to the Abbey was re-opened this summer.
All three maps have profound implications for Irish and Scottish communities. In re-imagining the geography of Ireland and Scotland, Tir Cholmcille draws attention to the proximity of these countries to one another. Although legend has it that Colmcille left Ireland and headed to Scotland as a penance for his misdeeds, the map may tell another story. Perhaps Colmcille didn’t necessarily perceive Ireland and Scotland as separate entities and, rather than leaving Ireland, was simple moving northwards from one Gaelic community to another that in need of Christianisation.. The re-orientation of the map draws attention to the shared Gaelic culture, which is particularly strong in the islands. The partnership between Bòrd na Gàidhlig in Scotland and Foras na Gaeilge in Ireland, which has supported these initiatives, has strived to deepen connections between the Scottish Gaelic and Irish Gaelic language communities. The Gaelic dimension has been enhanced with the presentation of placenames in the original Gaelic rather than in an English translation that served to disconnect many islanders from the land and placelore.
The re-mapping of the Colmcille story (as well as the 1500 celebrations) have given Scottish islands an opportunity to come centre-stage. The centrality of islands in the Columba narrative is important since we tend to think of islands as edge places – a tendency that is reinforced by the power of maps to interpret in “a scientific manner”. Maps affirm states, and states affirm maps. Doreen Massey (1994) calls this the politics of location. We have come into a mind-set that assumes a core and a periphery, a centre and an edge – and you can’t have one without the other, but the islands are always seen as at the “edge”, but this is not the case in relation to islands in the Colmcille narrative.
Although most closely associated with Iona, Colmcille is connected with many Scottish islands. In Canna, the archivists put together a series of sounds and images of places that are linked with the saint for a video which can be viewed here: https://www.nts.org.uk/stories/the-feast-day-of-st-columba. While there is no absolute historical evidence, John Lorne Campbell (from Canna) argues persuasively that Canna was the summer home of Columba, and that it is the mysterious island of “Hinba” or “Himba” that is mentioned in the Columban diaries. The video highlights the archaeological connections of Canna and St Colmcille, and the soundtrack features Gaelic music.
It would be impossible to establish concrete historical evidence for every aspect of Colmcille’s life, but there is also a sense in which the facts do not matter (Nic Craith 2013). Whether the character of Colmcille is historical or semi-fictional is irrelevant for the purpose of tradition-bearing, although most people believe in his historical reality. The ‘history’ of Colmcille continues to be regenerated and remade, and his significance for island place-making has become layered. In “How Myths Die”, Lévi-Strauss (1974) argues against the disappearance of myths. They can be transformed, exhausted even, but they do not disappear. Instead, they can be recreated or re-actived
In the case of Columba, one is dealing with a ‘truth story’ rather than a true version of events (a distinction I first heard from John Bell at Greenbelt, a Christian arts festival, in Cheltenham). It is a story that resonates with Scottish communities (see Ian Bradley) https://www.dailyadvent.com/gb/news/140d401e921f7b8c01a6e0ba65129a9a-Celebrating-St-Columba-our-grumpy-but-muchlauded-saint-who-was-born-1500-years-ago) Although not the patron saint of either Ireland or Scotland, Colmcille’s popularity was such that his relics were carried in front of the Scottish army at the Battle of Bannockburn. There is a sense in which Colmcille is the real patron of the Gaels of Dal Riada. His 1500th anniversary has generated many creative initiatives, from poetry to music to art. Accompanying this blog is the image of a new icon that was commissioned from iconographer Pavel Lupu. This beautiful (copyright) image is yet another example of the continuing tradition of a popular saint.
Hallam, Elizabeth and Ingold, Tim (2008) “Creativity and Cultural Improvisation: An Introduction”. In: Elizabeth Hallam and Tim Ingold eds, Creativity and Cultural Improvisation, Routledge.
Lévi-Strauss, Claude (1974) “How Myths Die”, New Literary History, 5(2), pp. 269-81.
Massey, Doreen (1994) Space, Place and Gender, Polity Press.
Nic Craith, Mairead (2013) “Living Heritage and Religious Traditions: Reinterpreting Columba/Colmcille in the UK City of Culture”, Anthropological Journal of European Cultures, 22(1), pp 42-58.
Woods, Dennis (1992) The Power of Maps, Guilford Press.
Big thanks to SRUC @RuralPolicySRUC, Dr Jane Atterton and colleagues for the Islands Webinar series invitation and really great to have all questions, examples, observations, and ‘where and what next ‘comments and feedback from webinar participants.
The wealth of island community knowledge, activity and energy is crucial in any wider policy and evaluation process; so too is the opportunity to connect, bridge and share old and new history and experiences. Thank you: loads “to think with” and “to do with” together!
Please see the recent book, a collection of island studies essays for further linkages discussed in part in our talk Scotland and Islandness (2021).
Today at the ISISA 2021 conference Kathryn A. Burnett @KA_Burnett and Lynda Harling Stalker @lynda_harling present to the islandness stream at ISISA 2021. Lynda and Kathryn’s panel paper is entitled ‘Affective Islandness: Personal Narratives and Material Identities’.
17th International Small Islands Studies Association (ISISA) Conference: ‘Sharing Lessons, Sharing Stories’ Virtual conference | June 14–18, 2021 Full program is out now — head to http://mun.ca/wearehere/isisa.php… for more details.
“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
Colmcille: An Icon of Shared Heritage Irish and UK Keynote Plenary June 2021
Professor Mairéad Nic Craith discusses Columba/Colmcille’s contested symbolism, creative practice research legacies, links and inspirations between Ireland and Scotland. Alongside Mairéad on the panel are Professor Máire B Ní Annracháin and Dr Brian Lacey as they each contribute their rich expertise to the 5th June 2021 Keynote Plenary: “Colmcille: An Icon of Shared Heritage” | Irish & UK Joint Ambassadorial Addresses. You can view all three of these excellent presentations via this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2CSG8tS1EN8
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.
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 lovedislands” 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 ashis “island time” spent elsewhere. With reference to Mackenzie’s own memoirs – not leastof 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 continuingdialogues of ‘remoteness’, ‘islandness’, independence and nationhood today.
MECCSA 2019 (Media, Communications and Cultural Studies Association) Annual Conference, University of Stirling
Islandness: 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.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) or myself (email@example.com) 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:
The chapter explores themes of culture, community and communication of island arts and cultural representation enterprise with examples drawn from across Scotland’s islands and highland ‘north’ communities.
“This discussion explores artistic imagining of Scotland’s highlands and islands as a place both ‘north’ and ‘on the margin’. Cultural representation of Scotland’s highlands and islands and processes of communicating these representations are subject to ongoing interrogation and debate. What and how remote communities, cultures and places are represented through art is undoubtedly informed by debates on survival, sustainability and responses to marginal status. The account presented here examines some of these themes from a Scottish perspective, including how art informs cultural production and creative economies in and of Scotland’s remote communities.”
Professor Timo Jokela and Professor Glen Coutts of the University of Lapland bring together artists, art educators and researchers from across the Arctic Sustainable Arts and Design (ASAD) network in this edited collection of essays examining themes of culture, community and communication and the book details are provided below including links to where it can be accessed in digital and print form.
Relate North. Culture, Community and Communication
Drawing on projects and studies from northern countries, Relate North: Culture, Community and Communication explores contemporary practices in arts-based research and knowledge exchange in the fields of art and design. This anthology contains contributions from Canada, England, Finland, Norway, Russia and Scotland.
The interrelated themes of ‘culture’, ‘community’ and ‘communication’ formed the basis of the call that was issued to researchers, artists and designers. The chapters and visual essays in the book interpret the terms ‘arts’ and ‘design’ broadly to include, for example, crafts, indigenous making, media and product design. Aspects of culture and community are explored through the lens of contemporary arts and design. The contributing authors provide thought-provoking accounts of current practice in art, design and education.
Relate North brings together the work of leading scholars to explore issues of contemporary art, design, and arts-based research. The book will be of interest to a wide audience including, for example, practice-based researchers, artists, designers, anthropologists, geographers and social scientists in addition to those with a general interest in Northern and Arctic issues.
Re-visioning “North” as an ecosophical context for creative practices
Annamari Manninen & Mirja Hiltunen
Dealing with complexity – Pupils’ representations of place in the era of Arctic urbanization
Kathryn A. Burnett
Place apart: Scotland’s north as a cultural industry of margins
Irina V. Zemtsova & Valery Sharapov
“Tradition that does not exist”: Wood painting of Komi-ziryans
Essi Kuure, Heidi Pietarinen & Hannu Vanhanen
Experimenting with arctic social phenomena. A multicultural workshop model
Designing for Nova Scotia Gaelic cultural revitalization: Collaborating, designing & transmitting cultural meaning
Anne Bevan & Jane Downes
Wilder Being: Destruction and creation in the littoral zone
A Tundra Project: Melting ice as an artistic material
Lapland University Press is a university publisher established in 2005. Its mission is to increase awareness of Northern and Arctic issues and culture in the scientific community and it has cooperated with the ASDA research network and published three earlier Relate North issues. Relate North. Culture, Community and Communication you can buy from Juvenes Bookstore or download it from Lauda-database
Acting Head of Publications
Minister Humza Yousaf announced that legislation to empower Scotland’s island communities is to be progressed:
“Our islands make a significant contribution to Scottish life from both a cultural and economic perspective. As such, I am immensely proud to be able to announce that I am bringing forward an Islands Bill less than a year after my predecessor launched the Government’s consultation on potential provisions.
“We have placed the aspirations and needs of our island communities at the centre of our empowerment agenda. Drawing on the work of both the Island Areas Ministerial Working Group and the consultation findings, the Bill will provide lasting benefits for all our island communities for generations to come.
“I believe that this demonstrates our strong and continued support for our island communities and our desire to deliver quickly on the election promises set out in our manifesto. I now look forward to working with the various island communities and representatives in bringing this into effect over the next year.”
The Islands Bill follows a period of consultation and debate on Scotland’s islands futures and it is proposed that the legislation be brought forward and delivered during the next 12 months, within the first year of the new parliamentary session.
The local authorities of Shetland (Shetland Islands Council) , Orkney (Orkney Islands Council) and the Western Isles (Comhairle nan Eilean Siar), along with a number of key island and ‘remote peripheral region’ related organisations, have variously called for greater control over local matters and raised key isses and debate on Scotland’s islands long term social and economic future not least through the campaign, Our islands – Our Future, in the lead up to 2014’s Scottish independence referendum.
50th Anniversary Commemoration of the Resettlement of Tristan Da Cunha (1963-2013)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
“Despite the sonorous magnificence of Shakespeare’s John of Gaunt monologue, England is not an island. Rather this ‘England, that was wont to conquer others’ just thinks, acts, governs, talks, plays and presents itself as if it is. For the island polity known as ‘Britain’, more formally as ‘Great Britain (GB)’, the ‘United Kingdom (UK)’ is an odd place. In spite of its self-promotion as the ostensible product of a long, stable and immutable partnership of equals, the ‘national’ institutions of this state-nation consistently present themselves as those of a singular ‘nation-state’ through the monofocal prism of the dominant ‘island race’ of England: the English historical narrative of ‘this sceptred isle’, and a smothering blanket of English cultural referents.”
Illustrated Talk: Tristan da Cunha’s ‘volcano years’1961-1963 – the Shetland dimension
Ray Burnett and Kathryn Burnett, Scottish Centre for Island Studies, University of the West of Scotland
In 1961 a volcanic eruption forced the community of Tristan da Cunha, ‘the loneliest island in the world’, to abandon their island home for evacuation to the UK and an uncertain future. First to offer a new home to the Tristanians were the islanders of Shetland. While government deliberated what to do, the ‘refugee’ island representatives visited Shetland to assess the possibilities. After considerable debate the government’s preferred resettlement location was to be the south of England where the islanders remained for just under two years before they were finally able to return to Tristan in 1963.
As Tristan da Cunha celebrates the 50th anniversary of this return, Ray and Kathryn Burnett have been researching this remarkable story of small island survival. The media coverage and government files of these events reveal much about prevailing perceptions of islands and islanders within the ‘corridors of power’ and the popular press. Their findings in the archives, from Stockholm to Shetland bring to light not just the significance of those who stepped forward as the champions of small island communities but also the importance of the Shetland dimension. This illustrated talk will present these findings with a view to rekindling and seeking out memories from within Shetland of these events of fifty years ago.
This research has been funded by the British Academy.
The talk is on at Shetland Museum Archives on Thursday 7th March 2013 at 7:30 pm (Doors open 7:00 pm). All welcome.
…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
Perhaps we need to consult more in the den – I had no idea that the Island in Anne’s choice yesterday would be so close to the island setting of mine today (and that after I’d made such a point of saying that there is no discernible theme this week).
Catherine Czerkawska’s novel The Curiosity Cabinet is set on a fictional Hebridean Island, Garve, or Eilean Garbh. It reminded me of a gentler version of the island of Raasay, and made me yearn to go back; in fact, it is based on the island of Gigha, which has immediately found a place on my holiday list. I love islands and all that is unique about them. I love the idea that each island is a miniature world, with tiny bays, moors, mountains, and that is so easy to shrug off the day to day and behave as though the…
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
SCIS @UWS PhD student Rachael Flynn is currently developing her doctoral arts practice research around themes of migration and Irish women diasporic narratives. To explore Rachael’s work further visit her website detailing workshops and activity relating to this research. http://womenslibrary.org.uk/event/my-glasgow-granny-from-donegal/ Rachael has worked closely with Glasgow’s women’s library on this project and is grateful to them for their support.
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 email@example.com
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.
Kirsten MacLeod, Phd student at the University of the West of Scotland presents a paper on her community media work with Govan women and the documenting of their history of struggle and resistance. For further details on her paper entitled ‘You Play Your Part: Women’s History via Participatory Media – A Glasgow Example’ link here to the event website.
Kathryn A. Burnett and Tony Grace (2009) ‘Community, Cultural Resource and Media: Reflecting on Research Practice’ in Gordon, Janey (ed.) (2009) Notions of Community: A Collection of Community Media Debates and Dilemmas; Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Wien, 2009. 310 pp., 5 ill.
ISBN 978-3-03911-374-3 pb.
This volume gets beyond simple descriptions of the values and processes involved in community media and is deliberately seeking argument and structured debate around the issues of this vibrant sector of the media. The contributors examine the dilemmas that have emerged within this sector and provide an incisive overview. The chapters use case studies and data research to illustrate the major debates facing community media, along with a sideways look at the dilemmas that community media practitioners and their audiences must engage with.
This collection provides an international perspective and covers the traditional formats as well as newer media technologies. It also gives some intriguing examples of community media, which get beyond simple good practices.
Contents: Janey Gordon: Introduction – Saba ElGhul-Bebawi: The Relationship between Mainstream and Alternative Media: A Blurring of the Edges? – Lawrie Hallett: The Space Between: Making Room for Community Radio – Janey Gordon: Community Radio, Funding and Ethics: The UK and Australian Models – Kathryn A. Burnett/Tony Grace: Community, Cultural Resource and Media: Reflecting on Research Practice – Katie Moylan: Towards Transnational Radio: Migrant Produced Programming in Dublin – Gavin Stewart: Selling Community: Corporate Media, Marketing and Blogging – Michael Meadows/Susan Forde/Jacqui Ewart/Kerrie Foxwell: A Catalyst for Change? Australian Community Broadcasting Audiences Fight Back – Kitty van Vuuren: The Value and Purpose of Community Broadcasting: The Australian Experience – Pollyanna Ruiz: Manufacturing Dissent: Visual Metaphors in Community Narratives – Janey Gordon: The Mobile Phone and the Public Sphere: Mobile Phone Usage in Three Critical Situations – Jason Wilson/Barry Saunders/Axel Bruns: ‘Preditors’: Making Citizen Journalism Work – Dimitra L. Milioni: Neither ‘Community’ Nor ‘Media’? The Transformation of Community Media on the Internet.
Comharrachadh Ceud Bliadhna bho rugadh Somhairle MacGill-Eain
Diciadain 15 – Disathairne 18 Ògmhios 2011
Mar chomharrachadh air ceud bliadhna bhon rugadh Somhairle MacGill-Eain (1911 – 1996), tha Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, Ionad Nàiseanta na Gàidhlig agus an t-Ionad Albannach airson Sgrùdaidhean Eilein aig Oilthigh Taobh Siar na h-Alba a’ toirt cuiridh dhuibh tighinn còmhla rinn aig comharrachadh de bheatha, de shaothair agus de na dh’fhàg e mar dhìleab.Am measg nan urramach ionadail, nàiseanta is eadar-nàiseanta a bhios a’ nochdadh ann, bidh Liz Lochhead, a chaidh a chur an dreuchd o chionn ghoirid mar Bhàrd-molaidh na h-Alba agus Aonghas MacNeacail. Bidh cuideachd an t-Ollamh Douglas Gifford, Timothy Neat, an t-Ollamh Máir Ní Annracháin agus Crìsdean MacIlleBhàin.
Gheibhear fuireach aig a’ Cholaiste airson £275 le trì oidhcheannan, biadh agus dìnneir na co-labhairt sa phrìs. Cosgaidh e £35 a bhith an làthair gach latha as aonais cosgais àite-fuirich agus tha prìsean sònraichte ann do dh’oileanaich.
Ma tha sibh ag iarraidh àite a bhucadh aig a’ cho-labhairt lìonaibh AM FOIRM AIR LOIDHNE seo a-steach no cuiribh fios gu Sandra Byrne air 01471 888 000 no air post-d.
“I Know Where I’m Going”
Access to World Heritage Sites from St Kilda to Uluru
23-24 November 2011- Edinburgh
Call for Papers
This international conference will explore the potential and
challenges created by new technologies to develop high-quality, remote-access,
visitor experiences for UNESCO World Heritage Sites and
other sites of cultural, historical and natural significance. The conference has
three main objectives:
a-To showcase the new
technologies available: including the 3D laser scanning of St Kilda WHS as
part of the Scottish Ten project to create exceptionally accurate digital models
of Scotland’s five UNESCO World Heritage Sites and others
worldwide, in order to better conserve and manage them (http://www.scottishten.org/). Other forms of
digital mapping will also be demonstrated.
b-To debate the benefits and
challenges these new technologies present. This applies not only to issues
of preservation, conservation, interpretation but also to the benefits and
pitfalls of virtual access to sensitive sites and the economic benefits of
tourism promoted thus.
c-To encourage site managers
worldwide – particularly within the UNESCO World
Heritage Sites network – to consider the benefits & impact these new
technologies could have for their own sites, allowing them to investigate these
further and clarify issues of acquisition, installation, costs
WE ARE NOW INVITING PAPERS which address the key following questions with regards to
1. What are the most relevant trends and recent developments in remote access
technology? What are the special considerations for
different categories of heritage experiences (from underwater sites to open air
museums to historic houses/listed buildings)? What are the benefits and
disadvantages of remote viewing, and for whom?
2. How can technological innovation both support remote access and contribute to
conservation of all aspects of a heritage site, from the historic environment to
artefacts? When is remote access less sustainable? Who controls the ability to
view heritage sites and materials remote, and the content which is available to
3. How can a balance be achieved between tourism development and environmental
protection at heritage sites? Can the owners/custodians of a site benefit
financially from remote viewing? (e.g issues of data ownership, land rights and
intellectual property). Will remote viewing encourage physical tourism or
4. How can remote access and remote access technologies contribute to formal and
informal Education about the sites?
5.How can storytelling and other arts contribute
to remote access heritage interpretation?
you would like to present a paper addressing the themes of the
Conference, please submit an abstract. Abstracts should be submitted in
pdf format and be limited to 2 pages and 1,000 words (including title and author
information, but excluding references). The evaluation will be based on the
quality of the submission. Submissions and inquiries are through: firstname.lastname@example.org . The deadline
for submissions is 3rd April 2011. On
submission of an abstract, authors should receive an email confirming receipt of
To register your interest in attending the Conference
please contact :
A Conference on the Contemporary Contexts and Possibilities of the Documentary, University of Westminster, January 2011
AVPhd Panel presentation by SCIS PhD student Kirsten MacLeod, “I film therefore I am: Process, Practice and Participation in Community based Filmmaking”.
Kirsten MacLeod (University of the West of Scotland)
This paper will explore examples of community-based media in Scotland, focusing on participation in the production process and the construction of identity and knowledge. Using a visual practice based methodology, the research focuses on fieldwork examples of community based, collaborative video production, in urban and rural areas of Scotland.
The paper is concerned with exploring community media as a transformative social process, a catalyst for new relationships, experience and knowledge about the world. It presents community documentary projects as a lens through which to explore issues of participation, representation, identity and knowledge within communities.
Taking a fluid approach to community as meaningful and symbolically constructed (Cohen), and to community media as covering a spectrum of media which serves, reflects or involves communities, geographically bounded, or of interest (Atton, Jankowski), this paper presents participation as part of an ongoing process of production, which lives on beyond the end product of the actual media itself, in the situated social experiences of its participants.
By examining the process of production, the research deconstructs the filmmaking process, exploring how people engage in filmmaking as participants, but also as members of the audience community. How meaningful is community media to communities who produce it, as a process and in the longer term once the end product is “out there”?
Through examples from Glasgow and islands on the West coast of Scotland, as well as broader trends in Scottish community media, the paper describes how community media channels the situated-ness of knowledge and identity.
The paper advocates a practice led methodology, where the research engages directly with the process of filming and draws reflexively and practically on the researcher and participants’ experiences.
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.
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.
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