IHOPE Islands

Project Description

Island communities represent some of the most vulnerable sections of global society to the increasing threats of climate variability, demographic expansion, economic instability, and sudden environmental change. Therefore island societies around the world are united by common threats of relative sea level rise, increased storm intensity, rising human migration, and biodiversity loss. These same islands are also often united by particular patterns of relatively late human colonization and insular ecologies that provide an opportunity to examine the role that humans have played in mitigating or exacerbating the impacts of these common threats through time.

This project brings together comparative studies from around the world to contextualize and examine these key hazards facing island societies.  By incorporating long-term perspectives that cover the entire human occupation of these island groups, the distilled lessons from these case studies provide an opportunity to influence policy decisions and inform public opinion. The IHOPE Islands project has three key roles.

  1. Peer discussion: To facilitate cross regional discussion and comparative approaches that contextualize and examine the key hazards facing island communities around the world within a long-term perspective.
  2. Policy development: To create key messages from a unified body of scholarship with access to governmental policy makers and practitioners.
  3. Public engagement: To provide examples that facilitate the promotion of public awareness and the development of research led solutions to global change.
Map showing the locations of some of the research carried out by IHOPE Island participants. Please see their personal webpages for more details of their research.

Peer Discussion

Participants in this project bring regionally specific knowledge and expert opinion built upon robust evidence from around the world; including the

North Atlantic:
Faroes: Dugmore
Greenland: Dugmore, McGovern
Iceland: Dugmore, McGovern, Hambrecht

Cuba: Cooper, Valcárcel Rojas
Puerto Rico: Rivera-Collazo, Cooper

Hawaii: Kirch
Kodiak Archipelago, Alaska: Fitzhugh
Kuril Islands: Fitzhugh
East Timor: Spriggs
Melanesia and Polynesia: Kirch
Vanuatu: Spriggs

Indian Ocean:
Mauritius: Seetah

Mediterranean: Broodbank, Dawson

This project not only allows increased communication and peer review between scholars working in different parts of the world but also organises meetings and conference sessions at discipline specific conferences. However, the comparative nature of the project and ability to regionally compare and disciplinarily contrast approaches makes output from this project of relevance to international science meetings.

Policy Development

Project participants engage with policy development in their regional areas of expertise but the inter-regional discussions provide an opportunity to also engage with policy development at the international level.  The integrated histories of past island societies of this project have provided policy contributions at international global change meetings such as the Copenhagen Climate Change Congress and Planet Under Pressure, as well as through direct representations to leading national and international organisations such as Future Earth and the International Social Science Council in Paris.

This project has recognised that attempts to influence policy development are most effective if they are theoretically and semantically adapted to dovetail with pre-existing thematic approaches adopted by the international community for coping with the impacts of global change. Therefore IHOPE islands has adopted seven key themes that help focus policy discussions and form output compatible with global efforts. These themes are:

1)     Architecture
2)     Urban planning
3)     Food security
4)     Water management
5)     Migration
6)     Civil engineering
7)     Governance

These cross cutting themes connect the process of thought, planning and action between social scientists, policy makers and disaster managers, and answer the pressing call for progress from the Association of Small Island States (AOSIS) and wider Inter Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) community.  This project demonstrates how the time depth of human experience, contextualized within particular island settings, can provide new perspectives on mitigation strategies that can be developed and implemented around the world.

Stilted pre-Columbian houses in Northern Cuba (reconstructed from archaeological examples) provide an alternative perspective to hurricane resilient architecture shifting from robustness to speed of recovery. Photo by Jago Cooper

Public Engagement

This project aims to raise public awareness and access to evidence based examples of the impacts of global change on island communities. Individual case studies and collective examples from the past provide powerful messages that can inspire popular imagination and generate alternative perspectives on these key issues. An overriding message of the project is that long-term perspectives of human-climate-environment dynamics are essential when considering sustainable solutions to short-term or immediate threats in the 21st Century.

Alternative means of dissemination and public engagement are an essential component of this project strategy and they require imaginative means of public engagement. Therefore participants are: creating community based projects; promoting multi-media journalism coverage, authoring literature aimed at the popular market, producing digital and television content that helps to drive public engagement with these issues.

These efforts are all collaborative and collective. Anyone interested in contributing to, or becoming part of, the IHOPE Islands Project please contact Jago Cooper (jcooper@britishmuseum.org).

Malé, capital of the Maldives. The Maldive government is one of the most powerful voices in the Association of Small Island States looking for sustainable solutions to the impacts of Global Change. Photo by Shahee Ilyas

Key Publications

Broodbank, C. 2013. The Making of the Middle Sea. A History of the Mediterranean from the Beginning to the Emergence of the Classical World. London & New York: Thames & Hudson.

Broodbank, C. 2013. Minding the Gap: Thinking About Change in Early Cycladic Island Societies from a Comparative Perspective. American Journal of Archaeology, 117(4), 535-543.

Cooper J. 2012. Fail to Prepare then Prepare to Fail: Re-thinking threat, vulnerability and mitigation in the pre-Columbian Caribbean. In: Cooper J, and Sheets P, editors. Surviving Sudden Environmental Change: Answers from Archaeology. Boulder: University Press of Colorado. p 91-114.

Cooper J, and Peros MC. 2010. The Archaeology of Climate Change in the Caribbean. Journal of Archaeological Science 37(6):1226-1232.

Dawson, Helen. 2013.  Mediterranean Voyages: The Archaeology of Island Colonisation and Abandonment. Vol. 62. Left Coast Press

Dugmore A, Keller C, and McGovern TH. 2007. Norse Greenland Settlement: Reflections on Climate Change, Trade, and the Contrasting Fates of Human Settlements in the North Atlantic Islands. Arctic Anthropology 44(1):12-36.

Fazey, I., Pettorelli, N., Hyde, T., Kenter, J.O., Wagatora, D., Schuett, D., 2011. Maladaptative trajectories of change in Makira, Solomon Islands. Global Environmental Change 21, 1275-1289.

Fitzhugh, Ben. 2012. Hazards, impacts, and resilience among hunter-gatherers of the Kuril Islands. In: Cooper J. and Sheets P, editors. Surviving Sudden Environmental Change: Answers from Archaeology. Boulder: University Press of Colorado, p. 19-42.

Hambrecht, G., & Look, C. 2009. 2009 Highland House Survey Report for the Barbuda Historical Ecology Project. Barbuda Archaeological Project Report

Kirch, P. V. 2007. Hawaii as a model system for human ecodynamics. American Anthropologist, 109(1), 8-26.

McGovern TH, Vésteinsson O, Friðriksson A, Church M, Lawson I, Simpson IA, Einarsson A, Dugmore A, Cook G, Perdikaris S et al. . 2007. Landscapes of Settlement in Northern Iceland: Historical Ecology of Human Impact and Climate Fluctuation on the Millennial Scale. American Anthropologist 109(1):27-51.

Rick, T. C. 2011. Weathering the Storm: Coastal Subsistence and Ecological Resilience on Late Holocene Santa Rosa Island, California. Quarternary International, 239:135-146.

Rivera-Callazo, I. C. 2011. Palaeoecology and Human Occupation during the mid-holocene in Puerto Rico: the case of Angostura. In Corinne Hoffman and Anne van Duijvenbode, eds. Communities in Contact, Essays in archaeology, ethnohistory & ethnography of the Amerindian circum-Caribbean. Leiden: Sidestone Press.

Siegel P.E., Hofman C.L., Bérard B., Murphy R., Ulloa Hung J., Valcárcel Rojas R. & White C. 2013. Confronting Caribbean heritage in an archipelago of diversity: Politics, stakeholders, climate change, natural disasters, tourism and development, Journal of Field Archaeology 38(4): 376-390.

Spriggs, M. 2011, ‘Pacific islands as Crossroads: Ancient connectivities in an island world’, in Tim Curtis (ed.), Islands as Crossroads: Sustaining Cultural Diversity in small Island Developing States, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Paris France, pp. 23-38.

Tanner, T., and Mitchell, T. 2008. Entrenchment or enhancement: could climate change adaptation help to reduce chronic poverty? IDS Bulletin, 39(4), 6-15.

Valcárcel Rojas, R. 2012. Interacción colonial en un pueblo de indios encomendados: el Chorro de Maíta, Cuba (Doctoral dissertation, Caribbean Research Group, Faculty Archaeology, Leiden University).

Major collaborators and affiliated institutions

Professor Cyprian Broodbank,  UCL.
Dr. Helen Dawson Freie Universität Berlin.
Professor Andrew Dugmore, University of Edinburgh.
Dr. Ben Fitzhugh  University of Washington,
Dr. George Hambrecht University of Maryland College Park,
Professor Patrick Kirch University of California, Berkeley,
Professor Thomas McGovern Hunter College CUNY; NABO; GHEA; IHOPE,
Dr. Tom Mitchell Head of Programme, Climate and Environment, Overseas Development Institute (ODI).
Dr.Isabel Rivera-Collazo, Universidad de Puerto Rico Rio Piedras.
Dr. Krish Seetah, Stanford University.
Prof. Matthew Spriggs Professor of Archaeology, Australian National University
Dr. Roberto Valcarcel Rojas – Centro Oriental de Arqueología y University of Leiden,
Dr. Emily Wilkinson, Climate and Environment, Overseas Development Institute (ODI)