SCIS Research and Projects

Current research projects staff at SCIS are involved with include a number of  island communities and partners. Key current projects are noted here. For details of these and other related projects please select the drop-down menu under the Research Projects Tab.

  • Scotland’s Hebrides

The  Island Cultural Archives Project was undertaken with funding  in 2007-08 from the AHRC (Award Holder: Dr Kathryn A Burnett) and involved a partnership between local history societies on the islands of both South Uist and Benbecula, and a range of academic and university partners interested in exploring and engaging in discussion on the debates and challenges informing community responses to cultural heritage, social history and the ‘memory mapping’ of island places. The project engaged with a number of key thematic frameworks including deserted settlement, visual memories and oral tradition. This research partnership established here informs current research activity at SCIS-UWS in the field of knowledge transfer, social history and cultural identity, and the discourse of island places and people. Examples of these research areas being taken forward and research developments include the work on island music hertiage such as the Songs of the Hebrides – its cultural transmission, brokerage and mediatization.  By way of an international focus on the political and poetic  hertiage of Scotland’s island heritage, and its interrogation of peripheral and marginalised representation,  in June 2011 a conference and centenary celebrations relating to the life, work, and creative and political legacy, of the Gaelic poet, writer and islander Sorley MacLean will be co-hosted by the Scottish Centre for Island Studies (UWS) and  Sabhal Mòr Ostaig (UHI). MacLean’s influence across the entire spectrum of Hebridean and Gaelic culture, as well as Scottish political internationalism remains immmense. Further details on this extensive research event can be found here at Ainmeil Thar Cheudan: A Centenary Celebration of Sorley MacLean (1911-2011).

  • Tristan da Cunha

There are currently two research partnerships underway in relation to the island community of Tristan da Cunhna.

The first relates to a multimedia education project on sustainability issues and involves the SCIS staff working in association with the Education team (specifically Mr Jim Kerr) and pupils at St. Mary’s School, Edinburgh of the Seven Seas, Tristan da Cunha. This partnership  project entitled Tristan da Cunha 2013 – Celebrating Survival, Creating Sustainability Pilot Project Initiative and has been made possible by funding from both the School of Creative and Cultural Industries, University of the West of Scotland and  from the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), coordinated by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee.

The second research focus relates to the island’s history following the volcanic eruption, desertion of the island and subsequent resettlement in the early 1960s. This development project entitled Tristan da Cunha: Representations of ‘The Volcano Years’ 1961-1963 has been funded in full by the British Academy (Small Research Grants) (Awarded June 2010: £6,944). The research team consists of Dr Kathryn A Burnett and Mr Ray Burnett, School of Creative and Cultural Industries, both research staff at the Scottish Centre for Island Studies, University of the West of Scotland. Details of the project will be updated here but a short summary follows:  In 1961 the small south Atlantic island community of the UK dependency Tristan da Cunha experienced a dramatic volcanic eruption. It led to the evacuation of the entire community to the UK where they remained until their return in 1963. A critical factor in the decision of the islanders to forsake the UK and return to the South Atlantic was their reaction to the media representations of themselves and their ‘way of life’’. Furthermore, an important element in the furtherance of their request for repatriation was the advocacy of their case in the media by influential supporters. This research project offers a unique focus on key aspects of the media representation of the island and islanders through the 1961-1963 debate on the future and the viability of the Tristan da Cunha community, including the key role played by advocates supporting the islanders cause. The study offers a timely opportunity as the 50th anniversary of the evacuation approaches to reflect on the representations of island living, sustainability and its advocacy then as well now.

  • Migration and Scotland’s Rural communities

Currently being updated.

  • Peripheral and Marginal Regions: Northern European Networks

Mike Danson (Professor of Scottish and Regional Economics) has  collaborated with Peter de Souza (Hedmark University College, Visiting Professor  UWS) and others on peripheral and marginal regions in Northern Europe. Funded as  an RSA international research network, as well as a series of workshops across  the Nordic and Celtic countries, publications including an edited book, and  other dissemination, this has developed a website http://www.pemabo.net as  a place where academics,  practitioners and policymakers who are involved in peripheral, marginal and  border
regions can meet for discussion, information and news. The  theories, analyses, lessons and discussions applicable to remote rural regions  in many ways appear to be common to islands and these feature strongly in this  geography and forum. Some of the events have embraced island themes explicitly  and islands are hosting some of the planned meetings over the next two
years.

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