Tristan da Cunha: media representations of "'The Volcano Years' 1961-1963

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’'. 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, from a Scottish perspective of the media and political discourse of the time. The study offers a timely opportunity to examine the 50th anniversary of the evacuation and ‘re-settlement’. Our position is not to profess to ‘know’ the Tristan islanders’ experience, nor to represent it here as ‘understood’. Rather, our argument is that we might bring our knowledge of Scotland’s islands as historical, cultural and political spaces to bear on the archive documentation of the events of 1961-1963. Our analysis focuses on the accounts of the islanders and of their evacuation and proposed settlement from several perspectives but most especially to demonstrate the varying media positions including the ‘Scottish’ and the ‘Anglo-British’ in terms of reflecting island realities and debates of the time. Themes of ‘remoteness, ‘otherness’, islands and ‘islanders’ are considered and a critically informed interrogation of these terms in media discourse and political debate both ‘then’ and now is provided.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jan 2013
EventMeCCSA Annual Conference 2013: Spaces and Places of Culture - University of Ulster, Derry/Londonderry, United Kingdom
Duration: 9 Jan 201311 Jan 2013


ConferenceMeCCSA Annual Conference 2013
Abbreviated titleMeCCSA 2013
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • Islands
  • Media
  • representation
  • Atlantic
  • Remote
  • Settlement
  • Scotland
  • Shetland
  • Tristan da Cuhna
  • Migration
  • Identity
  • Otherness
  • History
  • Community
  • broadcasting
  • Governance
  • island studies
  • Textual Analysis


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