By Anna Mercer
Special Issue on Ecologies of the Atlantic Archipelago
Seán Hewitt & Anna Pilz
Ellen Hutchins, Fucus ovalis, collected on Whiddy Island, 1805, Trinity College Dublin
Studies of the intertwined histories of Great Britain, Ireland, and their associated islands have given rise to the notion of ‘archipelagic studies’. As in John Kerrigan’s seminal work Archipelagic English, the cover of which shows the familiar image of Great Britain and Ireland on a map tilted, reaching out from mainland Europe and into the Atlantic, this involves a new perspective on geography, identity, and the relations between nations. Central to this field of criticism are concerns regarding land and the natural world.
Nineteenth-century developments resulted in dramatic shifts within the archipelago, with attending drastically-altered human-environment relationships. There were numerous instances of famine, subsistence crises, demographic change, and altered pressures on land and systems of tenure. Connective technologies of the modern world spread to sparsely populated regions, complicating notions of centre and periphery as well as tradition and modernity. Unprecedented infrastructural developments via roads and railway networks connected rural and urban geographies, resulting in increased tourist traffic; the expansion of ports further enhanced trading networks with Europe and beyond; and the spread of …read more