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Science and Culture in the Kerguelen Islands : a relational approach to the spatial formation of a subantarctic archipelago

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Author list: Prince, Solene

Publisher: Institute of Island Studies

Place: Charlottetown, PEI

Publication year: 2018

ISSN: 1715-2593

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.24043/isj.63

URL: https://islandstudies.ca/sites/default/files/ISJPrinceImaginariesKerguelen.pdf


Abstract

The Kerguelen Islands are devoid of a permanent population, but are nonetheless interlinked to past and current human activities that have shaped their subantarctic landscape. In the past decades, the archipelago has become a French outpost for scientific research where scientists, support staff, research assistants, and travelers assemble during temporary missions. In this article, I present the spatial formation of islands as relational in order to explore how the material and the cultural converge to make the Kerguelen Islands a place of both mundane practice and global interconnection. These spatialities intertwine the features of the landscape with pre-departure preparations, animal encounters, scientific rigour, daily routines, and past human activities. I advance these narratives by analyzing 18 blogs of French sojourners who have spent extensive time on the Kerguelen Islands. I ultimately give islands without a permanent population a character unlike that of isolation and contemplation as is usually attributed to cold-water islands of the (sub) polar seas.


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