ISISA Newslatter 2020

ISISA Newsletter

January 2020

Volume 23, Number 1,

 

 

The 8th Anatomy of Islands Symposium Islands in Focus: From Narratives of Vulnerability to Narratives of Empowerment. The island of Lastovo, Croatia: September 29 - October 1, 2019.

 

The Croatian islands are no stranger to scholarly activity. The most suitable time for these gatherings is in May when the islands are blossoming or September when the sea is still warm and the tourists are about to leave. Larger islands host conferences and congresses in big hotels with specialized conference halls. Workshops, small symposia, summer schools, and the like take place on smaller islands with private accommodations at hand and local boards with sufficient premises. Nevertheless, a close look at the agendas, regardless of the venue, reveals hundreds of topics across many different fields and disciplines. Those that would expect island academic discourse would be disappointed, however. Even conferences with explicitly announced island topics offer just a paper or two on islands.

 

Ten years ago, a small group of permanent and temporary inhabitants of the outermost Croatian island of Vis decided to do something about it, and to bring island knowledge from various disciplines to the island spaces and islanders. They gathered a group of Croatian and international island enthusiasts and knowers, and proposed a series of symposia and workshops that would take place on islands and deal with islands only. Vis was the first island in mind and contacts with the municipal administration and some island-based NGOs were made. They all answered promptly, and an international island-mainland team was easily gathered. The first symposium was held and followed by a workshop that attracted students, mainly in the field of architecture. Other scholars followed, and the idea grew into a project named the Anatomy of Islands. Ten years later, an idea has become well known on the islands and mainland alike: the Anatomy has become a focal point for academics, various experts, students, and whomever else that recognizes the importance and relevance of island studies. Subsequently, six Anatomy of Islands symposia and workshops attracted scholars from Croatia, Slovenia, Italy, Austria, UK, France and Japan. The Anatomy also travelled. Exhibitions were held on the islands of Lastovo and Hvar, and in Zagreb, Graz and Paris. After over 100 symposium presentations and 24 student projects, the mission on Vis appeared accomplished and we began searching for the next challenge and where to ponder it. The first island that came to mind was Lastovo, Croatia's outermost inhabited island. Like before, the local administration and NGOs were contacted. The NGO Dobre Dobričević readily responded, and the 7th Anatomy of Islands workshop took place on Lastovo in 2017. The following year, the 7th symposium was held. The latest symposium was held last year and attracted 30 participants of various academic backgrounds and exactly one field of interest: the islands.

The uniqueness of the Anatomy of Islands programme is the thickness of the interdisciplinary taking place, not only among speakers, but also listeners. In order to make all the lectures available to the local people, each symposium has consecutive translation available. Also, each lecture has its own slot of time so that all the participants can hear each other, and that has been shown as the fruitful method. Especially for the students of architecture and urbanism that join the programme in order to offer some developmental creative solutions for the island locations chosen by the locals during the workshop days. After three days of symposium lectures, they are equipped with the variety of disciplinary perspectives, sometimes very opposed, on how island development should look like, also being commented by local politicians, activists and entrepreneurs.

 

The 8th Anatomy of Islands symposium was held in 2019 from September 29 to October 1, in the old island cinema. The main idea of the symposium is well summarized in the Call for Papers. Here are some excerpts:

 

Distance is no longer perceived as an obstacle and thus narratives of powerlessness and peripherality concerning islands have increasingly been questioned. Islands, moreover, have even become places for testing innovative developmental solutions, for example in the fields of energy and organic agriculture. Civil and vocational associations on islands—or on the mainland but dealing with the challenges of island development—are more and more willing to overcome the sluggishness of institutions that are obliged with taking into account the complexity and dynamism of the island experience. International associations of island communities, island administrations, and NGOs are, among others, active spaces for the transfer of knowledge concerning islands….

. scholars have developed the field of Nissology dedicated to islands, which has acquired its position as an academic discipline of research over the past twenty years. All these initiatives have complexified and nuanced our understanding of living within islandness, and, in their various ways, have worked within their programs to deconstruct the dichotomies associated with islands. Traditional definitions of islands and the notion of the sea as a barrier have been examined. Islands have been contemplated from the perspective of island experience not only as a place, locus, where phenomena take place differently than on the mainland, but as objects in their own right.

 

The theme of the 8th Anatomy of the Islands symposium called for the inclusion of a wide variety of island ‘voices’ and narratives and the participants properly responded. The presentations and discussions, which lasted much longer than the symposium agenda proposed, contributed to the inter- and transdisciplinary perspectives that make up Island Studies and the development of Nissology, and illustrated well the interconnection of islands’ vulnerabilities and paths of empowerment. They also paved the way for the next gathering: it took only a very short meeting to decide that the 9th symposium will take place on Lastovo in September 2020.

 

Boško Budisavljević, Marina Blagaić Bergman, Ivana Marčeta-Frlan, Iva Niemčić, Tomislav Oroz, Nenad Starc, Ivica Zec

Organizers

Co-organizers

Financial support