Scotland’s islands and cultural work: the 'specialness' of place

Kathryn A. Burnett*, Lynda Harling Stalker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter discusses island places as literal and symbolic sites of cultural work and examines the textual nature of narratives and accounts that are suggestive of island cultural work as ‘special’. Our discussion is informed by a growing research focus on the emotional, embodied and material aspects of making contemporary creative forms, from across the arts – including literature, visual culture, music and dance – and of craft-making and design, as both an aesthetic but also notably a commercial activity, in and on Scotland’s islands (Lu 2015; Harling Stalker and Burnett 2016; Burnett and Harling Stalker 2018; McHattie et al. 2018). The wider context of Scotland’s islands as sites of successful creative and cultural industry (Highlands and Islands Enterprise 2014) is well documented but not without debate. We note the complex interface between arts and crafts with other creative and cultural work activities and sites of cultural production and consumption, namely media, museums and galleries, and heritage and tourism but also education, and other sectoral policies, for example, around food and drink, land and landscape, and the expansion of ‘island technologies’ (Bevan and McLean 2013). We are mindful of the complexity surrounding research attempts to capture the material and everyday lived experience of island places and environments (Butler 2012; Vannini and Taggart 2012; Stratford 2017; Boon et al. 2018; Bates et al. 2019).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationScotland and Islandness
Subtitle of host publicationExplorations in Community, Economy and Culture
EditorsKathryn A. Burnett, Ray Burnett, Mike Danson
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherPeter Lang
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781789974133
ISBN (Print)9781789974133
Publication statusPublished - 21 Apr 2021


  • islandness
  • Scotland's Islands
  • community
  • cultural heritage
  • material culture
  • cultural industries
  • Gaelic
  • craft
  • enchantment
  • island studies
  • sociology of place
  • mediatization
  • narrative
  • cultural work
  • island identity


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