Introduction: Islands and Identities
Robin Cohen, Olivia Sheringham
This special issue comprises a selection of articles given at the conference “Islands and Identities: Creolization and Diaspora in Comparative Perspective” held at the University of Oxford, 6–7 December 2012. We convened the conference to advance our project entitled “Diaspora and Creolization: Diverging, Converging,” part of the Oxford Diasporas Programme funded by the Leverhulme Trust (see Acknowledgments below). The event involved the participation of international scholars from the islands of Réunion, Mauritius, and Guadeloupe, as well as from South Africa, the United States, and Europe. With pre-circulated papers leaving ample time for discussion, the event provided an ideal forum for the stimulating exchange of knowledge and ideas on the themes of islands, identities, creolization, and diaspora. The papers and conference discussion have allowed us to distil key themes addressed in this special issue, including the extent to which islands represent particularly salient spaces for the emergence of creolized and/or diasporic identities as well as some of the social, cultural and spatial factors that give rise to various forms of identity construction and expression, notably creolization and diaspora.