Reflecting on Islands of the World Conference July 2017, Kangaroo Island

The 15th Islands of the World Conference was a gathering of peoples at Kangaroo Island Australia, July 2-7 2017 organised by the ISISA the International Small Islands Studies Association. Conference themes were considered, determined and decided before island visitors arrived. How else to organise a rabble of renegade and retired academics, active senior citizens, young minds and hearts, smart people and passionate locals?

Kangaroo Island as host is beset with a near and imminent drive for tourism, looming branding and stamped packaging. Not for the faint hearted. Internationals and interstate visitors were rendered effete by it, despite the size of their heart. A conversation back in February 2014 with Delvene Cockatoo-Collins concerning Kangaroo Island at the 1st South East Queensland Island Forum ‘Tourism, Transport and Local Economies’ on Canaipa (Russell Island) questioned how any Kangaroo Island initiative could succeed with the Aboriginal understanding of it as place of the dead.

Of most interest at the 2017 conference were models of diplomatic activism and active citizenship.  Notions of island-ness and their jurisdictions were shared. Understandings of islands as incubators of ideas for global survival, ecological restoration and celebration were aired. 

The poetic academic writing about island as metaphor by Alice Teasdale in her paper On inhabited islands: Shakespeare, Stevenson, magic, colonisation and the public imagination, Professor Elizabeth McMahon sharing of poet Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner performance at the United Nations Climate Leaders Summit in 2014 and Amy Kerr Allen speaking about the sinking islands of Kiribati in her presentation An island out of water: challenges created by centralisation of population and services in Kiribati were engaging presentations and speakers.

Post conference conversation with Jackie Cooper back home at Minjerribah was of island as haven and a  character profiling of islanders as miscreants, misfits, buccaneers, pirates and voyagers.

Happy snaps follow by and of, we delegates and tourists of Kangaroo Island who are three generations of matrilineal descent from aetipical ancestor Matilda Brown who now reside on Quandamooka Country.

2014 1st South East Queensland Island Forum ‘Tourism, Transport and Local Economies’ program can be found at this link https://www.flinders.tas.gov.au/client-assets/images/Council/Downloads/Agendas/2014.02/Annexure%2017.%20Item%20B2.%201st%20South%20East%20QLD%20Island%20Forum.pdf

Islands of the World Conference July 2017, Kangaroo Island program link can be found at https://kangarooisland2017.files.wordpress.com/2016/07/isisa_2017conferenceprogram_finalweb.pdf