“Une vision globale et transdisciplinaire des études insulaires”, de G. Baldacchino, p.2

G. Baldacchino


colonies, have rejected outright political independence (Watts, 2000;

Baldacchino, 2006): as has done Tokelau in February this year3.

Many innovative forms of environmental management4 and epidemiological


5 tend to involve, or be based on, islands.

Major advances in evolutionary biology, ecology and bio-geography have

occurred on the basis of pioneering island field research: insularity is pronounced

as the flywheel of evolution, with copious island-based examples of endemism

(Carlquist, 1974)

6, as well as extinction7.

Anthropology cut its teeth with the study of island societies in allegedly pristine

and quasi-laboratory settings


Social network theory has been developed from the particular research contexts

afforded by small island environments (Barnes, 1954; Boissevain, 1974).

Islands are platforms for the emergence of national identity and for the

affirmation of cultural specificity: critical resources, especially in a context of

sweeping globalization and the death of cultures and languages. As prototypical

ethno-scapes, islands have spearheaded the study of the production of locality

(Appadurai, 1996: 180).

Amongst the ten territories declared as having the highest Gross National Income

per capita levels of (conventionally estimated) economic development, four B

Aruba, Bermuda, Iceland and French Polynesia B are islands or island

archipelagoes with small populations (The Economist, 2003b).

3 ‘Tiny Isle of Tokelau rejects Independence’, Washington Times, February 16, 2006. Available at:


(Accessed 24 March 2006).


Crosby (1986) and Grove (1995: 9) remind us that Mauritius was the site of the modern world’s first

environmental debate. Landes (1998: 69) documents the island groups of Açores and Madeira as the world’s

prototype plantation economies. Their separateness, distinctiveness and more manageable size render islands

obvious starting points for designing sustainable ecotourism programmes via biosphere reserves, national parks

and other diversity-rich areas (Di Castri & Balaji, 2002).

5 The island of Mafia, off Zanzibar, is the World Health Organization test site for the elimination of advanced

lymphoedema [elephantiasis] (

The Economist, 2003a). The islanders of Tristan da Cunha may hold the key to

the asthma and lung cancer genes (Scott, 2003).The Micronesian islands of Pingelap and Pohnpei have the

highest known incidence of achromatopsia [colour blindness] (Sacks, 1996; Gabilondo, 2000). Iceland is today

a key leader in genetic decoding, thanks to its well documented genealogical heritage (Vesilind, 2000).


These include giantism (e.g. the Komodo dragon lizard) and dwarfism (e.g. the Icelandic horse).


"The incidence of endangered or extinct species is greater on islands than on continents. More endemic

species have been created on islands, but more have perished there" (Young, 1999: 253).

8 The forays of Radcliffe-Brown (1922) in the Andaman Islands, Malinowski (1922) amongst the Trobriand (or

Kiriwina) Islanders of Papua New Guinea, Mead (1928, 1934) in Samoa and the Admiralty Islands, and Firth

(1936) in Tikopia led to the birth of ethnography and the consolidation of social anthropology as a discrete

social science discipline with its own methodological rigour (Baldacchino, 2004a; DeLoughrey, 2001: 35).


Acerca de eroxacourthes

French traveller, writer and translator, foolish of Latin Amarica!!!
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