Cover image by Kirk Allen Mastin
small islands, big ocean
Despite their apparent remoteness, islands are everywhere. They’re preloaded as desktop backgrounds, the setting of survivalist reality shows, and the likely destination for your honeymooning neighbors. But not for long. In 2005, the erstwhile Carteret Islanders were forced to abandon their island, thus becoming the first climate refugees. Since then, over a million islanders globally have begun to imagine their own dislocation, wondering how to pack their country into the national suitcase. Whether it's coral-bleached reefs, ephemeral mangrove islands, or artificial garbage islands, the global island is on the frontlines of climate change. Their stories are defined by disintegration, migration, and adaptation. In this issue, the island’s natural, cultural, material, political, and touristic histories reckon with its existential antagonists: time and tide.
Authors, artists, policymakers, and climate researchers contribute to a narrative aligned with Fijian scholar Epeli Hau’ofa’s notion of “a sea of islands”—as opposed to islands in a far-off sea. These pieces are written from a place of individual and collective witness, blending interview, archive, and data into the tapestry of the literary and visual arts.
This issue addresses climate scientists’ claims that ‘islands are disappearing’ by focusing on the materials these coasts, reefs, leewards, and windwards are made (and unmade) of.
You may enter this issue by clicking the contents above or continents below. Either way, we look forward to starting this conversation with you. Please join in by submitting teleconnections as you read.
Flagstaff, AZ, 2019