Islands And Micronationality: An Introduction
Keywords: Micronations, micronationality, islands, seasteading
Abstract: Since the 1970s the term ‘micronation’ has been applied to small territories that have been declared as independent but are largely unrecognised as such. Although micronational status has been claimed for various types of location, islands have been particularly prominent as the bases for such endeavours. This essay serves to provide a brief pre-history of island micronations; to characterise the attributes and circumstances of notable micronations; to identify conceptual frameworks pertinent to their promotion; to introduce the case study articles on the topic presented in this theme issue of Shima; and to provide a bibliography of relevant previously published analyses of island micronationality.
Sark And Brecqhou: Space, Politics and Power
Keywords: Brecqhou, politics, power, Sark, space
Abstract: Sark is a British Crown Dependency that could be described as a type of micronation. It has been a fief of the Crown since the 16th century, and in the 21st Century instituted a form of democratic government. While not part of the UK, nor a sovereign state in its own right, Sark is a self-governing territory within the Bailiwick of Guernsey, and has substantial political autonomy, with its own legislature and judicial system. Sark’s political context comprises a binary existence as a jurisdiction spanning two populated islands: Sark and Brecqhou. This inter-island setting is complicated by Brecqhou having a special relationship with some privileges within the Fief of Sark, and offers a further level of quasi-micronationalism. This article discusses the history of Sark’s and Brecqhou’s inter- island relations. In the context of examining this island binary and the background to the contested ownership of Brecqhou and challenges to Sark’s political system, emphasis is placed on reframing the islands’ intertwined history and locality in connection with notions of space, politics and power. There have been various disputes over Sark and Brecqhou for many centuries, and in recent years the current owners of Brecqhou have argued that the island does not fall under Sark’s jurisdiction. This article shows that Sark exists in several ways within different island groupings and political relationships, and argues that closer analysis of this island context contributes both a case study of inter- island relations to Island Studies, and more broadly to re-thinking the political geography of islands in the context of spatial and power relationships.
- Captain Calamity’s Sovereign State Of Forvik: Micronations and the Failure of Cultural Nationalism
Keywords: Micronations, Forvik, cultural nationalism, Shetland, independence movements
Abstract: Micronations are often viewed as humorous phenomena, but, when linked to serious political movements, they have the potential to exert real political influence. In 2008, Stuart Hill (known as Captain Calamity) founded the micronation of Forvik on a small island in the archipelago of Shetland (Scotland, UK). Arguing that Shetland had never become part of the Scottish state, Hill sought to use Forvik as the springboard for a Shetland-wide self-determination movement. Although Hill’s rationale was primarily economic, Shetland possessed a strong pre-existing sense of cultural distinctiveness and tendencies toward cultural nationalism, which came to be popularly associated with Hill’s project. The Forvik micronation, however, received virtually no popular support, and, since its founding, Hill has struggled to make his argument heard through an amused global media and a hostile court system. Ultimately, this micronation has been detrimental to the development of a genuine Shetland self-determination movement and has weakened Shetland’s culturally rooted resistance to wider Scottish nationalism. This study illustrates how, far from bolstering associated nationalist movements, some micronations may lower them into ridicule and defeat.
- Contested Space: National and Micronational Claims to the Spratly/Truong Sa Islands - A Vietnamese Perspective
Keywords: Truong Sa, Spratly Islands, Bien Dong, South China Sea, Vietnam, micronations
Abstract: The archipelago located in the eastern Pacific Ocean around 4-11 degrees North and 109-117 degrees East, known in English language as the Spratly Islands, in Vietnamese as the Truong Sa Islands and in Chinese as the Nansha Islands, has been subject to contesting claims that have intensified in recent decades with the growing perception that the area has substantial sub-surface oil and/or mineral deposits that could prove a lucrative asset to whichever country can establish a definitive claim over and related exploitation of them. Following an account of Vietnam’s historical presence in the area, the article discusses some of the more fanciful micronational claims that have been made over the region and Vietnamese efforts to consolidate their claim to sovereignty in the face of contesting claims from other regional powers. [Editorial Note – Shima invites submissions offering other perspectives on disputed island and marine sovereignty issues in the South East Asia Pacific region.]
- Queer Sovereignty: The Gay and Lesbian Kingdom of the Coral Sea Islands
Keywords: Gay and Lesbian Kingdom of the Coral Sea Islands, micronation
Abstract: The Gay and Lesbian Kingdom (G&LK) seceded from Australia in 2004. Emperor Dale Parker Anderson declared independence upon raising the rainbow pride flag on Cato Island in the Coral Sea Island. The decision to secede was made as a response to the Australian government’s 2004 action in presenting the Amendment of the Marriage Act 1969. In giving my account I draw on a 2007 interview, correspondence with Emperor Dale and other ethnographic material concerning the G&LK. Among other articulations, I consider its secessionist move in light of Linda Bishai’s critique in Forgetting Ourselves (2004). This is that for all its liberationist motivation, secession is essentialist in its conception, and inherently anti-democratic; her prediction is that its preoccupation with state formation is making it irrelevant in the age of ‘rhizomatic’ community networks. In its micronationalist ‘queering’, however, I find secessionist politics more relevant in late modernity, not less, as the pluralising democratic politics of identity and representation are increasingly unable to contest key outcomes of ‘family values’ and ‘national values’ rhetoric in the 21st Century. [Editorial Note – This is a revised version of an essay that was originally published in the journal Cosmopolitan Civil Societies in September 2009]
- “This Mere Speck in the Surface of the Waters”: Rockall aka Waveland
Keywords: Rockall, Waveland, Greenpeace, UNCLOS
Abstract: Rockall is a tiny granite knoll isolated in the stormy waters of the North Atlantic. It is not habitable and has of itself no economic value. However, given its location it has been a prize insofar as at one time it was thought its possession could bring control of an exclusive economic zone. Iceland, Ireland and Denmark laid claim in addition to the UK, which had annexed Rockall in 1955, the last territory to be taken into the British Empire. In 1972 Rockall was declared to be part of Scotland. However the United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Sea (1982) now precludes rocks incapable of supporting life to be awarded economic zones. Interest in Rockall then reverted to symbolism especially in its occupation by Greenpeace in 1997 when the global state of Waveland was declared from Rockall’s summit, with Rockall itself as the capital. Greenpeace stayed on Rockall longer than anybody else and a claim has been established to it thereby, but Waveland itself collapsed with the failure of the company that serviced its online presence.
- North Dumpling Island: Micronationality, the Media and the American Dream
Keywords: North Dumpling Island, Dean Kamen, micronationality
Abstract: North Dumpling Island is a 3-acre stretch of land off the Atlantic Coast of the United States. The island has had five known owners since 1639, the most recent of whom is famed inventor and entrepreneur Dean Kamen. In 1986, Kamen launched a humorous campaign for the island’s secession in response to the State of New York’s denial of permission to build a wind turbine tower on his residentially zoned island property. The following article traces highlights of the media’s response to that campaign and discusses how Kamen has leveraged media publicity around his claims for micronationality to draw attention to his scientific and environmental initiatives, including a micronational model for sustainable energy consumption.
- In a Stew: Lamb Island’s flirtation with micronationality and the related consideration of a local representative body for the Southern Moreton Bay Islands
Keywords: Lamb Island, micronation, South Moreton Bay, Southern Moreton Bay Islands (SMBI), Queensland
Abstract: This research note profiles the background to the short-lived secessionist impulse on Lamb Island in Southern Moreton Bay, Queensland (Australia) in 2013, the role that the media played in disseminating news about the initiative, the manner in which it was represented and its local significance. Further to this, the note outlines the manner in which discussions concerning the viability of an independent council for the four inhabited Southern Moreton Bay Islands (Lamb, Karragarra. Macleay and Russell) relate to the impetus for Lamb Island’s flirtation with micronationality.
- Shards of the Shattered Japanese Empire That Found Themselves as Temporary Micronations
Keywords: Micronations, Japan, Bonin/Ogasawara, Izu islands
Abstract: In this short research note, I present a couple of instances in the 20th Century when some Japanese islands temporarily became tiny independent political entities not because of a conscious push to make them so, but because the islands went overlooked in the midst of international political maneuvering. In a manner of speaking, the islands were small and insignificant (and, being islands, not part of mainland Japan) isolated enough that when world leaders drew broad sets of lines on a map, it was easy to overlook the fact these islands had fallen through the cracks.
- About The Authors