Refuge or retreat: questions of resilience and the mediatisation of Scotland’s island space

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Island spaces have been claimed and circulated throughout modern and indeed pre-modern history as singular spaces of both refuge and retreat. From ‘wild places’ to ‘no-wheres’; from ‘safe places’ to ‘be-heres’ the capacity for media discourse to frame relationships - affective and political - with island space as variously community, economy and environment is considerable and research worthy. The recent pandemic delivered both an intensifying and enhanced circulation of such accounts and experience. This paper offers a contextualization of the sociological construction of islandness in regard of Scotland’s off-shore island spaces – the Hebrides, Shetland and Orkney - in regard to their appropriation and mediatisation throughout the Covid-19 period. Using conceptual frames of both islandness and resilience, examined through select exemplars of mediatisation and textual discursive practice, this paper locates this account in a longer view appreciation of Scotland’s islands as remote rural commodification, capital and assets, and the competing logic and nuance of island strengths and vulnerabilities. The key role of social capital, cultural values and norms is analysed, and comment presented regarding small island and rural coastal communities in a world where the particularities of place and space are complexly valued, and aspects of remoteness currently rearticulated to “good effect”. Brief examples on the transformational capacity of ‘island space’ as media and materiality will illustrate this account and questions asked of both the specific and wider role media institutions play in Scotland’s rural futures.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jun 2022
EventESRS 2022 Satellite Events: Far Apart But Still Close Together: "Just Rural Transitions: Opportunities and Challenges" - Birnam Arts Centre, Birnam/Dunkeld, United Kingdom
Duration: 21 Jun 202223 Jun 2022


ConferenceESRS 2022 Satellite Events: Far Apart But Still Close Together
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • island communities
  • media narratives


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