The settling of an ‘unwordly people’: a Scottish perspective on media accounts of Tristan da Cunha’s ‘volcano years’ 1961-1963

Kathryn A Burnett*, Ray Burnett

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


In 1961 the small south Atlantic island community of the UK dependency Tristan da Cunha experienced a dramatic volcanic eruption. It led to the evacuation of the entire community to the UK where they remained until their return in 1963. A critical factor in the decision of the islanders to forsake the UK and return to the South Atlantic was their reaction to the media representations – press and broadcast - of themselves and their 'way of life’'. Furthermore, an important element in the furtherance of their request for repatriation was the advocacy of their case in the media by influential supporters. This research project offers a unique focus on key aspects of the media representation of the island and islanders through the 1961-1963 debate on the future and the viability of the Tristan da Cunha community, including the key role played by advocates supporting the islanders cause. The study offers a timely opportunity as the 50th anniversary of the evacuation approaches to reflect on the representations of island living, sustainability and its advocacy then as well now.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 26 Apr 2013
EventScottish Media and Communication Association Conference 2013 - Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, United Kingdom
Duration: 26 Apr 2013 → …


ConferenceScottish Media and Communication Association Conference 2013
Abbreviated titleSMCA 2013
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Period26/04/13 → …
Internet address


  • Islandness
  • Island History
  • Island Ethnology
  • Archives
  • remote and rural areas
  • peripherality
  • Atlantic
  • island studies
  • Media Representation
  • Islander
  • narratives
  • Tristan da Cuhna
  • Shetland


Dive into the research topics of 'The settling of an ‘unwordly people’: a Scottish perspective on media accounts of Tristan da Cunha’s ‘volcano years’ 1961-1963'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this