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210 × 148 × 15 mm
224 pages
100 illustrations, 70 in colour
01 Aug 2014

Islands Nature and Culture Stephen A. Royle

Islands are contradictory places: they can be remote, mysterious spots, or lively centres of holiday revelry. They are associated alternately with escape, imprisonment, holiday and exile, and their alluring natural beauty and remoteness has inspired artists and writers across the centuries. Islands have been places of immense scientific, political and creative importance, from Darwin’s enlightening voyage to the Galápagos Islands, which resulted in his groundbreaking theory of evolution, to the moated prisons that have incarcerated dangerous convicts and freedom fighters alike.

In this cultural and scientific history of these alluring, often isolated, territories, Stephen A. Royle describes the great variety of islands scattered around the world, their economies, and the animals, plants and people living on them. He shows that despite the view of some islands as earthly paradises, they are often beset by severe limitations in both resources and opportunities. Many islands have faced population loss in recent decades, and some islanders have developed their homelands into tourist destinations in order to combat economic instability. Islands often conjure up exotic, otherworldly beauty and have provided both refuge and inspiration for artists and writers, such as Paul Gauguin in Tahiti and George Orwell on the Scottish island of Jura. Filled with intriguing illustrations, Islands is a compelling and comprehensive survey of the geographical and cultural aspects of island life.

‘One way to engage the perennial question of what is an island? as Stephen Royle does in this exemplary book is to explore how islands are understood through different academic disciplines, media and the arts . . . Royles book has a pace and conveys an excitement about islands that allows him to rapidly move through a range of contemporary debates in islands scholarship . . . the book as a whole is notable for the large number of illustrations (there seems to be one on every second page!). Here, Royle devotes space to reflecting on the nature of light and the associated atmospheres of islands, providing a particularly fascinating discussion of Gauguin . . . I found Islands to be an extremely enjoyable and fruitful read. The book is relevant for lay people, students and scholars alike, and Royles vivid writing style anf illuminating examples remind us why islands hold such a recurrent appeal for geographers and those from related disciplines.’ — Cultural Geographies

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Stephen A. Royle is Professor of Island Geography at Queen’s University Belfast. He is a founding member of the International Small Island Studies Association, Deputy Editor of Island Studies Journal and has visited 778 islands across the globe.

1. Islands: Definition and Formation
2. Island Characteristics
3. Island Identity, Mythology, Religion and Customary Practices
4. The Island as Laboratory
5. Island Literature
6. Islands: Visual Arts and Film, Television and Radio
7. Popular Culture: Islands and Tourism

Appendix: 100 Islands (Including Australia)
Select Bibliography
Island Resources and Websites
Photo Acknowledgements