A World of Islands: An Island Studies Reader (2007)

A World of Islands:
An Island Studies Reader

Edited by Godfrey Baldacchino

Agenda Academic (Malta) & Institute of Island Studies (Canada)
ISBN: 978-99932-86-10-3
Published: 2007 (Out of Print)  

A PDF version of the book is available for sale through Island Studies Press.

Close to 10% of the world’s population – some 600 million people – live on islands today. One fourth of the world’s sovereign states consist of islands or archipelagos. The combined land area and exclusive economic zone of the world’s islands takes up over one sixth of the Earth’s surface. Islands have pioneered the emergence of such disciplines as biogeography and anthropology; they are typical ‘hot spots’ for both biological diversity and international political tension. Islands offer distinct identities and spaces in an increasingly homogenous and placeless world. 
A World of Islands provides a global, research-based, comprehensive and pluri-disciplinary overview of the study of islands. The expertise and insights of 42 scholars and contributors offer a unique collection of theoretical principles, ideas, observations and policy proposals from, and for, the study of islands and island life.

This book is an Island Studies Reader. It provides a thoroughly referenced, comprehensive and pluri-disciplinary overview of islands. It will prove invaluable to a variety of specialists and generalists, including:

  • professionals, particularly physical and social scientists, who are interested in islands, work on them, spend time on them and/or live on them;
  • students and scholars – especially research-driven academics and graduate students – who wish to consider islands conceptually or analytically as a backdrop to other continental episodes;
  • libraries of higher education institutions serving islands, and interested in island studies;
  • civil society groups who run / work with island-based research and initiatives;
  • senior officials engaged in public policy, at national, federal or provincial level.

In particular, A World of Islands: An Island Studies Reader seeks to be the English-language reference text to those artists, scholars, researchers and public policy officials and analysts which are keen to adopt an ‘island imagination’ to their work, study or specific inquiry


  • Editorial Introduction (Godfrey Baldacchino);
  • Definitions & Typologies (Stephen Royle);
  • Locations & Concentrations (Christian Depraetere & Arthur Dahl);
  • Formations & Environments (Patrick Nunn);
  • Evolution (Andrew Berry);
  • Flora (Diana Percy, Stephen Blackmore & Quentin Cronk);
  • Fauna (R J Sam Berry);
  • Archaeology (Atholl Anderson);
  • Epidemiology (Andrew Cliff, Peter Haggett & Matthew Smallman-Raynor);
  • War & Security (Barry Bartmann);
  • Governance (Edward Warrington & David Milne);
  • Political Economy (Geoff Bertram & Bernard Poirine);
  • Tourism (Stefan Gossling & Geoffrey Wall);
  • Migration (John Connell);
  • Gentrification & Space Wars (Eric Clark, Karin Johnson, Emma Lundholm and Gunnar Malmberg);
  • Futures & Sustainability (A Panel of 19 Contributors);
  • Island Studies Resources (Graeme Robertson)

This is a 640-page, 150,000-word, soft-bound text, with various black-and-white maps, figures and prints. It is divided into four sub-sections and sixteen chapters (see more below), respecting the physical and the human approach to the subject identified in the title.
Each chapter includes arguments, explanations, figures and diagrams representing island life from a specific disciplinary perspective; most have an annotated, island-specific, case study that would serve as an application of the chapter’s arguments.


Editorial Introduction
This will serve as an overview to the book and provide background to the origins and evolution of ‘island studies’ in the physical sciences, social sciences and the humanities, plus addressing the critics and sceptics. It also explains the choice for the layout of the book, with its attempt to balance text with visual messages, and its intended audiences. It also explains the title of the book, linking it to David Quammen and the ‘Sea of Islands’ championed by Epeli Hau’ofa.
Author/Editor: Godfrey Baldacchino – gbaldacchino@upei.ca

Section 1: Identities, Locations & Landscapes

Chapter 1 – Definitions and Typologies
Author: Stephen A. Royle
What is an island? This chapter will look at the ways in which islands are and have been defined – in both physical and non-physical terms – and their ensuing implications. Overlap with continents, isles, cays, reefs, atolls as well as considerations of size (small/large); location (tropical/temperate/polar) and nature (oceanic/continental) will be considered. Impact of bridges and other ‘fixed links’ to island identity. May include a case study of Prince Edward Island and the Confederation Bridge.
(Reader in Geography at Queen’s University, Belfast. Intrepid Island Traveler and Assiduous Commentator. Author of A Geography of Islands, 2001 –s.royle@qub.ac.uk).  

Chapter 2 – Locations and Concentrations
Authors: Arthur Lyon Dahl & Christian Depraetere
The bulk of this chapter will be taken up by state-of-the-art cartographic renditions of the locations of most of the world’s named islands. Special sections will consider the world’s concentrations of island states (Caribbean Sea, Pacific Ocean and Indian Oceans); the world’s largest island/archipelagic sovereign jurisdictions (Australia, Cuba, Britain, Indonesia, Japan, Madagascar, New Zealand, Philippines, Sri Lanka); the world’s largest islands (Baffin, Greenland) and largest sub-national island archipelagoes (the Canadian North). A critical attempt will be made to count the world’s (named) islands.
(Dahl & Depraetere maintain the Islands Directory and Web-Site at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Together, they are now expanding the UNEPIslands site to include up to 27,000 islands over 1 km2. UNEP islands site is at: http://islands.unep.chArthur.Dahl@unep.ch & christian.depraetere@hmg.inpg.fr).

Chapter 3 – Formations & Environments
Author: Patrick D. Nunn
This chapter documents models of island formation (in the context of plate tectonic theory) and the manner in which they emerge from sub-sea development (in the case of oceanic islands): from subsiding landmasses (in the case of continental islands); or from downriver sediment accretion (in the case of river islands). Volcanic, Limestone and Coral Island Landscapes and their characteristics. Influence of Climate on Island Environments, with particular reference to Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean, Pacific Ocean and a select number of seas (Baltic, Caribbean, Mediterranean, South China …). Major / total impact of such phenomena as hurricanes, tsunamis, volcanic activity, landslides and El Niño, global warming and sea-level rise.
(Dr Nunn is Professor of Geography at the University of the South Pacific, Fiji Campus. He is the author of OceanicIslands, 1994 – nunn_p@usp.ac.fj).

Section 2: Island Life

Chapter 4 – Evolution
Author: Andrew Berry
A review of evolutionary trends and patterns in islands, starting with the Tertiary Period up to the present day. Genetic patterns, radiation and speciation dynamics, hybridization, extinction mechanisms. Case study to focus on the Hawaiian Islands.
(Dr. Andrew Berry is Research Associate at Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology, Boston, USA. He is co-author of Infinite Tropics: An Alfred Russell Wallace Anthology, 2002 & DNA: The Secret of Life, 2003 –berry@oeb.harvard.edu).

Chapter 5 – Flora
Authors: Stephen Blackmore, Diana M. Percy, Quentin Cronk
A review of the shrubs, flowers and trees that are members of island eco-systems and their specific evolutionary patterns, including endemism. Impact of invasive species. Case Study of Aldabra Atoll, Indian Ocean.
(Dr Quentin Cronk is the Director of the Botanical Garden and Professor of Plant Research at the University of British Columbia, Canada – quentin.cronk@ubc.ca. Dr Diana Percy, also at UBC, formerly at Institute of Biomedical and Life Sciences, University of Glasgow, Scotland –dmpercy@interchange.ubc.ca . Professor Stephen Blackmore is Regius Keeper, RoyalBotanical Garden, Edinburgh, Scotland – S.Blackmore@rbge.org.uk).    

Chapter 6 – Fauna
Author: Dr Sam (RJ) Berry
A focused review of the animals, insects, birds, fish and reptiles that are members of island eco-systems and their specific evolutionary patterns, including endemism. Impact of invasive species. Case Study to focus on the Scottish Isles.
(Dr. Berry is Professor Emeritus of Genetics at University College, London, UK – (rjberry@ucl.ac.uk).

Chapter 7 – Archaeology
Author: Atholl Anderson
Human (often dramatic) impact on islands throughout the ages. Island Archaeology. Settlers versus Natives. Evolution of specific island culture(s). Case Study: New Zealand and its Islands.
(Dr Anderson is an Island Archaeologist based at the Australian National University – aja@coombs.anu.edu.au).

Chapter 8 – Epidemiology
Authors: Andrew Cliff, Peter Haggett and Matthew Smallman-Raynor,
The nature, frequency and impact of epidemics on small islands is a fascinating study in its own right.
(Authors are all at the University of Bristol, UK.)

Chapter 9 – War and Security
Historic & geo-strategic role of islands in the context of imperialist ambition, international relations and regional security. Islands as ‘hot spots’ of bi-lateral or multilateral (especially ethnic) tension/conflict. The role of islands within the cold war and post-cold war scenario. Handling conventional (armed rebellion, secession & irredentist movements) and current (money laundering, drug trafficking, clandestine immigration, terrorism) security threats. Case Study to draw on an island in either the Caribbean Sea or the Indian Ocean.

Section 3: Island Development

Chapter 11 – Economic Growth & Prosperity
Authors: Geoffrey Bertram & Bernard Poirine
Specific influences of insularity on prospects for economic growth and development. Rent-based / MIRAB economies, benign colonialism and ‘upside down colonisation’. The Island Vulnerability Index and its Critique. A case study of French Polynesia.
(Dr Bertram – co-developer of the ‘MIRAB’ concept in relation to South Pacific micro-territories – lectures in the Department of Economics & Finance, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand – Geoff.Bertram@vuw.ac.nz.)
(Dr Poirine lectures in the Department of Economics at the Université de la Française Pacifique, Tahiti, French Polynesia – poirine@mail.pf ).    

Chapter 12 – Governance & Jurisdiction
Authors: Edward Warrington & David Milne
Islands as obvious administrative units; tensions between island members of archipelagic states; secessionist tendencies; specific status of island territories; divided islands; characteristics of island states. Case Study: Island and the European Union.  
(Dr Milne is Emeritus Professor of Political Science at the University of Prince Edward Island and Visiting Professor of Public Policy at the University of Malta – david.milne@onvol.net. Dr Warrington lectures in the Department of Public Policy at the University of Malta, Malta, and directs its Institute for Public Administration and Management – edward.warrington@um.edu.mt).

Chapter 12 – Tourism
Authors: Geoffrey Wall and Stefan Gössling
Warm and Cold Water Tourism and their association with Islands. The Myth/Trope and Reality of Island Tourism. Case Studies: Tourism in Bali compared to that in the Seychelles.  
(Dr Gössling lectures in the Department of Service Management at Lund University, Sweden and is the editor of Tourism & Development in Tropical Islands, 2003 – stefan.gossling@msm.hbg.lu.se. Dr Wall is a tourism specialist based at the University of Waterloo, Canada and co-author of Marketing Tourism Destinations, 1992- gwall@watserv1.uwaterloo.ca .

Chapter 13 – Migration
Author: John Connell
The over/under/de-population threatening various islands and the effects of flows of people to and from islands. Precarious island settlements. The diaspora. Case Study of the Cook Islands.
(Professor Connell is a prolific contemporary island geographer, based at the University of Sydney, where he currently heads the School of Geosciences. Author of a large number of books and papers, including: Small Worlds, Global Lives: Islands and Migration (1999, co-authored with Russell King) and The Last Colonies (1998, co-authored with Robert Aldrich) – jconnell@mail.usyd.edu.au ).

Chapter 14 – Gentrification and Space Wars
Authors: Eric Clark, Karen Johnson, Anna Lundholm & Gunnar Malmberg
One of the keenest disputes involving islands today is between insiders and outsiders, permanent residents and summer sojourners and visitors. The prize is limited space.
(Dr Clark is a Professor of Human Geography at the University of Lund, Sweden and Editor of the Journal Geografiska Annaler B – Eric.Clark@kulekgeo.lu.se.

Chapter 15 – Futures & Sustainability
A multi-disciplinary attempt to chart the challenges facing island development in the foreseeable future. Drawing threads from most of the previous chapters, this chapter should include a very broad yet innovative coverage of themes.  
Authors: A Panel of 16 Scholars from different disciplines, spanning the Humanities, Social Sciences & Physical Sciences.

Section 4: Resources for Island Studies  

Island Studies – Programmes and Methodologies; Internet Sites; Island Scholars; Higher Education Programmes; Inter-Governmental and Non-Governmental Organisations.  
Compiler: Graeme Robertson (Executive Director of Global Islands Network. The GIN website – www.globalislands.net – is the most elaborate and comprehensive source of island related facts, news and issues to date) – graeme@globalislands.net


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