The Salience of Islands in the Articulation of Creolization and Diaspora
Robin Cohen, Olivia Sheringham
In this article, we consider whether there is something about the spatiality of islands which makes them particularly fertile spaces for the emergence of creolized and/or diasporic identities. Drawing on the insights of social geographers, we argue that as well as considering temporal dimensions of creolization and diaspora it could also be fruitful to consider the spatial realm within which they emerge. Following an overview of the ways in which “islandness” has been conceptualized in social theory, we use the examples of the French Antilles and Mauritius to explore in more depth some of the contexts in which creolized or diasporic identities emerge. Our argument is not that creolization and diaspora emerge only on islands, nor do we suggest that all islands inevitably experience creolization and diaspora in some form. Rather, we explore the extent to which the spatial characteristics of certain islands we have meant that one could point to a certain “elective affinity” between creolization, diaspora, and islandness.