Doing Islandness: A Non-Representational Approach to an Island’s Sense of Place

By Phillip Vannini and Jonathan Taggart

This paper presents both an empirical characterization and a theoretical treatment of an island as practice. Through film and ethnographic description we describe and interpret how one kind of islandness is done. Thus we understand islandness corporeally, affectually, practically, intimately, as a visceral experience. Basing our conceptual treatment on the non-representational idea of dwelling we approach place as a kind of practice. We view the key performances through which an island becomes such as practices of incorporation. Inhabitants, we believe, incorporate a place not by way of mental design or blueprints, or by way of signifying comparisons and juxtapositions, but rather by sheer practical, creative, skillful engagement with its affordances. Thus we understand the practices of an islander as someone who assembles together an island by way of making use of whatever is at hand, solving going concerns as they present themselves.

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