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Islands, the Humanities and environmental conservation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 January 2018

Emeritus Professor in the History of Ideas, Department of Studies in Religion, School of Letters, Art and Media, University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia Adjunct Professor in Peace and Conflict Studies, School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia
*Correspondence: Professor Garry W. Trompf email:


This paper concerns itself with the contributions that the Humanities make to the understanding of islands and their bettered environmental conservation. Most distinctively, the Humanities comprise Literary Studies, Studies in Art and Culture (including Indigenous and Gender Studies) and Philosophy (with Aesthetics and the History of Ideas), but they also encompass Archaeology, History, Linguistics, Studies in Religion and, of late, Media and Communication Studies, even though members of this latter cluster frequently deploy methods from the social sciences. The goal here is to explore many of the implications such Human Studies and their sub-branches may have for island conservation, above all informed by the History of Ideas, in order to introduce the relevant key issues and inter-relationships and offer the most judicious illustrative materials. Variances in the reach and special attention of all these branches of knowledge are vast and intricate, while complex relativities apply both in the types of island situations and in expectations about what can or should be conserved. Since the mass of apposite discussions in the literature cannot possibly be summarized here, this article circumvents the difficulties by means of a special double-edged review. It ranges over the history of human consciousness of insular worlds, as reflected in mythic, legendary and historical materials, yet en route it uncovers how Humanities research can elucidate the human responses to islands through known time and shows how developing meaning-making has generally enhanced the appeal of sea-locked environments as worth conserving.

Subject Reviews
Copyright © Foundation for Environmental Conservation 2018 

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