Insularity, Materiality and the Making (and Unmaking) of ‘Europe’
This essay undertakes both to theorize the material heterogeneity of islands and of “Europe” (as a supplement to the definitional heterogeneity that Derrida so powerfully exposes) and to embody it through a writing practice that juxtaposes the author’s recent ethnographic fieldwork in the Orkney, Shetland and Faroe Islands with geographical, historical, literary, philosophical and visual sources. It suggests that encounters with islands – and the encounters that islands facilitate – allow us to think Europe neither as a Hegelian historical teleology nor as the unity in diversity of European Union rhetoric but rather as a shifting, contingently assembled collage of juxtaposed, heterogeneous elements, one that has been and must been continuously re-imagined and re-assembled if we are to heed Derrida’s injunction to attend both to the “memory” and to the “promise” of “Europe.”
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