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Sociological or anthropological studies on insular or peninsular cities?
March 26, 2014 11:29 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for academic-level writing on the ways that cities that are built on islands or peninsulas, or in geographically isolated areas, develop and behave differently from cities that are more easily and fully connected to other cities. This would be about the mindset and attitudes and not about urban planning or infrastructure. I'm thinking these may be anthropological or sociological studies. They may even just be a thought pieces or essays. I could swear I saw one that talked about Manhattan and Charleston, but I can't find it.
posted by Mo Nickels to Society & Culture (5 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
I am by no means any kind of expert or even a dilettante armchair observer of the subject, but I did take a classical archaeology grad school seminar on Sicily and a lot of it was focussed on the island nature of Sicily and how that affected its development. Here are a couple of the sources we looked at, which might at least set you off in some direction if you consult their bibliographies (especially the more recent ones which probably would have incorporated more anthropological/sociological thought than the one published in 1973):

Broodbank, C.
2000 “Whither Island Archaeology,” An Island Archaeology of the Early Cyclades. Cambridge. 6 – 35. ( partial article; doesn't seem to have an included bibliography. Google Books with some parts suppressed)

Evans, J.D.
1973 “Islands as Laboratories for the Study of Cultural Process,” The Explanation of Culture Change: models in prehistory. Ed. C. Renfrew. Duckworth: London. 517 – 520. (nothing I can find online, but it's referenced in this article which may have some other good sources for you.)

Robb, J.
2001 “Island Identities: Ritual, Travel and the Creation of Difference in Neolithic Malta” European Journal of Archaeology. 4.2. 175 – 202. (Abstract)
posted by urbanlenny at 12:29 PM on March 26 [1 favorite]


Try looking at the Journal of Island Studies.
posted by lollusc at 2:14 PM on March 26 [1 favorite]


Urban sociology, at least, doesn't necessarily hold that kind of material determinism to be true. So when you say

cities that are built on islands or peninsulas, or in geographically isolated areas, develop and behave differently from cities that are more easily and fully connected to other cities

you're making a pretty big empirical claim right there which may or may not be supported by evidence. So if you don't find work that discusses these issues, it might be because this assumption is unproven.

You might want to look at architectural history than sociological or anthropological work, in general.
posted by clockzero at 4:40 PM on March 26


I agree that the claim that islands/peninsulas develop and behave differently than more connected cities may indeed beg the question, but do also believe that there is something to the idea that how the people who live both within and on the outside of these (physically or mentally) isolated communities see themselves (i.e. how this affects their expression of community identity) in comparison to one another can lend a lot to how they develop - and may in some cases lead to them developing along different wavelengths. One sees this frequently in minority groups where the expression of identity becomes stronger in comparison to the majority culture. I think there's a lot to be explored in this topic and that other avenues to look into would be expression of ethnicity/identity.

I do also think that this type of expression probably has become less common in the modern world, given how connected we all are now (physically due to modern transportation, but also because of the internet), but there are still pockets of it due to political isolationism (e.g. North Korea or Cuba).

This is making me wish I had more of my grad school materials here. I also took a seminar on ethnicity, but don't have access to the reading list for it. Unfortunately, that's all the way across the country at my parents' house.
posted by urbanlenny at 8:47 AM on March 27


if you don't find work that discusses these issues, it might be because this assumption is unproven.

I'm not looking for your opinion or your speculation. I'm looking for actual writings on the topic, which I believe I have read before.
posted by Mo Nickels at 9:36 AM on March 27


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