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Island cultures

International small island conference coming to Memorial this summer

Research

By Zaren Healey White

Around the world, small islands are teeming with culture and have many stories waiting to be told.

The Harris Centre is working with the Small Island Cultures Research Initiative to bring those stories to an international conference on the St. John’s campus in June.

Communication and collaboration

The Harris Centre is hosting the 13th International Small Island Cultures conference from June 16-19, 2017. Stories, Ballads, and Island Narratives is this year’s theme.

The Small Island Cultures Research Initiative is a network established in 2004. Its purpose is to facilitate communication and collaboration between researchers and cultural practitioners working with small island communities. Participants are interested in many facets of small island cultures, including literature, music, dance, folklore, and media.

Change Islands, NL.
Change Islands, N.L.
Photo: Bojan Fürst

Storytelling nature

According to Bojan Fürst, manager of knowledge mobilization for the Harris Centre, hosting the conference at Memorial University is a natural fit.

“Memorial University has a long history of paying close attention to folklore and various forms of storytelling.” — Bojan Fürst

Mr. Fürst says there’s something unique about islands, and this conference will bring islanders — and those who study islands — together from all around the world.

“Memorial University has a long history of paying close attention to folklore and various forms of storytelling,” he said. “This conference will bring attention to this kind of work. It’s also very practical. In Newfoundland and Labrador we have a culture of storytellers. We see the storytelling nature of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians translate into things such as our tourism ads.”

Diverse presentations

Amy Jones is the knowledge mobilization co-ordinator with the Harris Centre. She says submissions from across Canada and several countries around the world have already been received.

“This is truly an international conference, with presenters coming from all over the world,” she said. “The delegates span several countries, including the United States, Brazil, Cayman Islands, United Kingdom, France, Japan, Hong Kong and Australia.”

Icebergs and pepole
Conference delegates will be visiting Newfoundland and Labrador in June, prime iceberg viewing season.
Photo: Zaren Healey White

As for what to expect at the conference, Ms. Jones says the topics are just as varied and stem from many disciplines. She says there will be presentations on everything from gender to environmental justice to mummering.

“We’ve received submissions ranging from legends and mythology to resilience and island identity, and from inequality and justice to creative arts and industrial development. Very diverse themes will be presented, so people from many different sectors and fields will find the conference compelling.”

Ms. Jones says conference delegates will have the opportunity to do various tours and excursions, such as an historic St. John’s and Cape Spear tour, and a boat tour in Bay Bulls.

Deadline: Feb. 28

There is still time to submit proposals.

The organizers are looking for paper submissions across all disciplines. Papers should be a maximum of 20 minutes in duration and delivered in English, while panels should be no more than 40 minutes in duration and have at least three panellists. Posters are also welcome. Conference participants will also be invited to submit expanded versions of their papers for consideration in an issue of Shima: The International Journal of Research into Island Cultures.

The deadline to submit abstracts online is Feb. 28, 2017.

For more information on this conference, please contact Amy Jones and visit the conference website.


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