University of Tasmania
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Artists and the articulation of islandness, sense of place, and story in Newfoundland and Tasmania

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posted on 2023-05-27, 12:11 authored by Brinklow, LM
This dissertation explores and argues for a psychology of 'islandness' that sometimes imponderable feeling that comes from visiting or living on an island. It is a pre-rational, primordial, deep-in-the-marrow embodiment that incites rootedness and a seeming unparalleled yearning for home, though visitors may also be attuned to this or a similar experience. Case studies are presented of the islands of Newfoundland, situated off Canada's east coast in the North Atlantic Ocean and Tasmania, located off Australia's southern coast in the Great Southern Ocean. Though on opposite sides of the globe, these islands were chosen because they share many characteristics: roughly similar size and distance from the mainland, population, settlement origins, constitutional arrangements, and the fact that historically they have been the butt of mainland jokes. Yet both are conducive to artistic activity that seems disproportionately out of scale with the size of their populations. On these islands, artists-literary, visual, musical, performance, cinematic-increasingly focus on their localized identities and cultures, creating an attitude of cultural confidence that comes from maintaining cultural distinctiveness, particularly where a shared and bounded identity is crucial to creating community. This study, then, argues that attachment to place, island identities, and the prevalence and place-specific quality of stories influences how islanders see themselves. The study draws on a range of theories and concepts that underpin the broader field of 'Island Studies' while remaining firmly rooted in phenomenology. At their most basic, the dissertation's ten chapters explore boundedness and connectedness: geographically, psychologically and socially, through the lens of place and attachment to place, and Island Studies. Analysing artistic expression of Newfoundland and Tasmanian culture and the words of their creators, the dissertation explores the inspirations and stories behind the art, the extent to which attachment to place, island identity, and the prevalence of story (the 'glue' that binds people to their place) play a role in islanders' perceptions of self, individually and collectively. In the face of globalization and cultural homogenization, it is possible to learn from Tasmanian and Newfoundland artists about living with particularity and maintaining distinctive cultures; about resilience and innovation; about living mindfully; about attachment to place and home; and about the role of story in creating and sustaining island identity. The dissertation attempts to express the essence of islandness: to put words to the 'imponderables' and, in so doing, discover what islands can teach the rest of the world about how cultures change and adapt.


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Copyright 2015 the author

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