Tatihou Island, Normandy, France

“New Directions in Island Studies” 16–18 June 2018, Tatihou Island, Normandy, France

The Small Islands Cultures Research Initiative (SICRI) and the University of Caen–Normandy (Maison de la Recherche en Sciences Humaines MRSH, Centre for Interdisciplinary research in social sciences and the research lab ESOCaen/CNRS, France) welcome proposals for paper presentations from any disciplinary field, as well as from managers and practitioners who are interested in island issues, to the 14th International Small Island Cultures (ISIC) Conference – New Directions in Island Studies.Several academic traditions across the globe have considered islands as a specific subject of research. In Grydehøj’s (2017) reflection on the future of island studies, he notes the many ways the field has emerged into an interdisciplinary area with various theoretical approaches that extend into further fields and locations. The emergence of a number of journals devoted to the discipline over the past decade or so (i.e. Island Studies Journal, Shima, Urban Island Studies, and Journal of Marine and Island Cultures) is testament to such a growing scholarly interest and growth of the field.

Island Studies is naturally concerned with islands, but while drawing on Hauʻofa’s (1994) “a sea of islands” and McCall’s call for a “nissology” — a term first coined by Moles (1982) — as “the study of islands on their own terms” (1994: 2), the study of island spatiality within disciplinary boundaries has been extended in recent years through the development of interdisciplinary island studies (e.g., Baldacchino, 2004; 2006; 2008), archipelagos (Stratford et al. 2011), decolonial island studies (Grydehøj 2017), and aquapelagos (Hayward 2012). Extending notions of “place phenomenology” (Hay 2006) or “performative geographies” (Fletcher 2011), Island Studies increasingly proceeds through a plurality of approaches that work within and beyond the physicality of islands themselves, which is evident in Hayward’s (2016) vision for “an expanded concept of island studies”.

While islands have often been conceived as “laboratories” with compact and clear boundaries, today such locations are increasingly understood as cultural/social assemblages that contain and connect with a number of contemporary globalized issues, including geopolitical disputes over the control of marine areas, environmental hazards (e.g. biodiversity, pollution, rising sea levels), disaster, heritage/memorial issues (e.g. prisons, slavery, deportation, colonization), migration and spatial mobility, and social inequalities and intersectionality (e.g. gender, class, culture, language).

In this context of an emerging field, what are the new directions for Island Studies both in terms of topics and methodologies? Are there new approaches to thinking about islands or applying island study theory? Island studies can be a very stimulating field, facilitating the emergence of new theories and methodologies; a “cognitive space” for the researcher. But how can we deal with islands without essentialising the space? Going back and forth between island studies and other fields can strengthen the epistemological dimension of island studies.

As a field that offers a way to further develop research methodologies and to stimulate intellectual thought, sometimes leading to new research fields, we especially encourage theoretical papers that engage in interdisciplinary, holistic and reflexive approaches that seek to expand the field, particularly in terms of interactions, contextualization, connectivities, micro and global foci, and perceptions of space and place.

Abstracts: Those wishing to present papers on the theme “New Directions in Island Studies” should submit a 200-word abstract to conference coordinators Arianne Reis a.reis@westernsydney.edu.au and Benoit Raoulx benoit.raoulx@unicaen.fr by 30 November 2017. The number of presentations is strictly limited due to SICRI’s standard practice of having no parallel sessions. A further call for papers may be opened in January if places are still available. Presentations will be in English. Attendees will be invited to submit expanded versions of their papers to a special issue of Shima on the theme “New Directions in Island Studies”.

About the Venue: Attendees will initially meet at the MRSH (Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Social Sciences) at the University of Caen-Normandy for a welcome toast and a film screening on June 14th (details TBC). A pre-conference study tour to Mont Saint Michel will take place on June 15th for those interested (extra cost involved). We will then go from Caen to Tatihou by bus on June 16th 2018.  Tatihou is a tidal island of about 28 hectares just off the east coast of the Cotentin Peninsula in Normandy. It is accessible by boat (every hour) or on foot (20 minutes) at low tide from the village of Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue. The island is protected as a nature reserve and is part of a UNESCO World Heritage site along with nearby La Hougue fort. Tatihou is steeped in the cultural heritage of the region and has a museum and a number of cultural events throughout the year. For more information on the island, see: https://www.manche.fr/tatihou/

Study Tour (June 15th):This will be a mini-bus trip from Caen to the historic site of Mont Saint Michel, another small tidal island steeped in the ancient cultural history of the region.  We will stop also at la Maison de la Baie, an interpretative centre in the village of Vains.  For those interested, we propose a unique experience: crossing the Bay to the Mont at low tide (3.30h) with a guide. Otherwise, you can go directly to the Mont by bus. We will come back by bus from Mont Saint Michel to Caen.

Film Screening: There will be a public film screening documentary film “Au nom des trois-couleurs” (“In the Name of Three Colors”) (2009; 90 mins) by Chantal Richard on the French island of Europa (part of the Scattered Islands, Canal of Mozambique), and it will be presented by the film-maker. This film screening is organized in cooperation with the research programme FRESH (Film and Research in Social sciences and Humanities) and supported by the interdisciplinary research centre MRSH, University of Caen-Normandy.

Exhibition: The conference will take place simultaneously with the exhibition “Les Esclaves Oubliés de l’île Tromelin” (The forgotten slaves of Tromelin) (Indian Ocean), which will be displayed at the Maritime Museum of Tatihou.

Getting there: Caen can be reached by train from Paris (2 hours) or by car (3 hours); by ferry from Portsmouth (UK, operated by Britanny Ferries) and by plane (Caen Normandy from London Southend (SEN), approx. 1 hour, operated by Flybe).
Tatihou is located off the coast of the village of Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue, near the town of Cherbourg, which is accessible by car from Caen (1h 40 minutes) or from Cherbourg (40 min). Cherbourg is also accessible by train from Paris (3h) or Caen (1 h); some trains stop at Valognes. Valognes Saint Vaast by taxi or by bus: 30 min.  For more information, visit the Tourism Office in Saint –Vaast’s website: www.saintvaast.fr. The island is accessible from the village by boat (accueil billeterie/ticket office for information). There is a boat every hour starting from 9 am to 6 pm. We will provide a bus shuttle from Caen to Saint-Vaast La Hougue on June 16th in the morning and a return shuttle on June 18th in the evening.

Rental car offices are available at the airports in Caen and in Cherbourg. There are also private shuttles (vans) from Caen that go to Paris airports or to any location in Normandy (www.BHS-shuttle.fr or Albion-voyages.com)

Accommodation: Participants can stay on Tatihou island, but are also welcome to stay at one of the two hotels in the nearby village of Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue on the mainland: L’Ermitage and Hôtel de France. Self-catering cottages (gîtes) maybe also available in the area (www.gites-de-france-manche.com).

The Tatihou Centre offers different accommodation options: 13 single rooms, 6 double rooms, 7 twin rooms, 6  triple  bedrooms, and 2 parental suites. Every room is equipped with bathroom and toilets. Cost : 66 euros per night/person (2017). Tatihou website https://www.manche.fr/tatihou/.

Costs: Registration and field trip costs will be confirmed soon. It is SICRI’s standard practice to keep registration costs to a minimum, and full registration including refreshments and conference participation should not exceed €200. Packages with accommodation included, day passes and discounts for students will also be available.