Thinking of Norway's islands / Columns / The Foreigner

Thinking of Norway's islands. The islanders of Sweden and Denmark are proud. From Bornholm to Fanø, from Gotland to Ven, each island has a rich history and culture separating it from the mainland. Norway is also a country of islands. Yet my experience has been that few residents view themselves as islanders, unlike others in the region. Iceland is an island state and it owns other islands with distinctive character such as Vestmannaeyjar. The Faroes and Greenland promote their island nature.

nature, islands, norway



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Thinking of Norway's islands

Published on Monday, 27th October, 2014 at 07:11 under the columns category, by Ilan Kelman.

The islanders of Sweden and Denmark are proud. From Bornholm to Fanø, from Gotland to Ven, each island has a rich history and culture separating it from the mainland.

The gorgeous island of Smøla near Trondheim
The gorgeous island of Smøla near Trondheim
Photo: Ilan Kelman


Norway is also a country of islands. Yet my experience has been that few residents view themselves as islanders, unlike others in the region.

Iceland is an island state and it owns other islands with distinctive character such as Vestmannaeyjar. The Faroes and Greenland promote their island nature.

Finland offers dozens of island communities across thousands of islands, isles, islets, skerries, and holms (and rocks) comprising Åland, the Turku archipelago, and the coastline.

Copenhagen and Stockholm are even cities of islands. Many inhabitants tout how, within the urban conurbation, their community is their small piece of land surrounded by water.

Back to Norway, when I mention to people from Tromsø and Harstad that they come from island towns, blank looks tend to emerge. Risøy and Hasseløy are islands of Haugesund. The clue is in the name, since øy is Norwegian for island. Locals are confused when I try to discuss the island character of their home.

I contributed to a tourism research project in Senja and Vesterålen. When I explored the island and archipelagic character of our case study sites, and the consequences for tourism, the project leader went ballistic.

He lambasted me for going off on an irrelevant tangent. My efforts to introduce him to island studies theory and island tourism literature were not met with enthusiasm.

Yet islands are some of Norway's most prominent tourist destinations for Norwegians themselves. It is almost a rite of passage to spend a summer holiday cycling Lofoten. Svalbard is always on the Norwegian consciousness.

From Vardo in the Arctic to Tjøme south of Oslo, islandness should be part of Norway's character. Despite islands being on the map, island studies is not.

Norway - celebrate your islands!

Ilan Kelman is a Reader in Risk, Resilience and Global Health at University College London. Sadly, he grew up on the mainland.



Published on Monday, 27th October, 2014 at 07:11 under the columns category, by Ilan Kelman.

This post has the following tags: nature, islands, norway.





  
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