ISISA 2020: Sharing Lessons, Sharing Stories

We are pleased to welcome delegates from around the world to the International Small Islands Studies Association 2020 Conference: Sharing Lessons, Sharing Stories, at Memorial University's Signal Hill Campus in beautiful St. John's, NL, Canada. Please save the date to attend. We can't wait to share our island with you!

The island of Newfoundland is renowned for its literature and drama; its music and dance; its vibrant visual arts scene; and its Intangible Cultural Heritage, like storytelling and boat-building, its culinary traditions and festivals. It has a rich history of settlement and resettlement: through moving the inhabitants of its small islands and outports to the “mainland,” or through outmigration, mostly “out west.” It is rich in natural history, being one of the oldest geological formations on the planet. Being an island, it is at the heart of climate change, and climate-change resilience. It deals with connectivity issues, and, often as a result, food security issues.

Now, island studies scholars and practitioners from NL and around the globe have an opportunity to hear these stories and lessons and share theirs – on an island that is also renowned for its hospitality. In addition, you will be treated to keynote speakers and community tours, and some of the best food Atlantic Canada has to offer.

Conference Program

Travel and Accommodations

Field Trips

Tourism Information


*The Call for Abstracts has been extended. The new deadline for submissions is 17 January 2020, Friday, by 4:30pm.* If you have already contacted a conference organizer to submit your abstract via email, there is no need to resubmit using the portal.

  • To submit your abstract, please go to the submission portal. You will be prompted to create an account if you do not already have one. If you have used the portal before, you can simply log in. Once you are logged in, click on "create new submission" and choose "ISISA 2020" from the drop-down menu. You can come back to your submission as many times as you want. When you are happy with the submission, click "submit." After you submit your abstract, you will not be able to edit the submission.
  • Abstracts should be around 150 words in length. 

We invite submissions on the following themes:

  • Sharing stories about the arts and culture (literature, music, visual arts, theatre) of islands, and Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH); art and culture as engines of sustainable economic development; entrepreneurship and innovation in and for island spaces.
  • Sharing lessons of island depopulation, repopulation and gentrification. This is particularly relevant in light of Newfoundland and Labrador's historic (and ongoing) practice of resettling islands and outports, and comparing this with today’s islands that are affected by changing demographics, anthropogenic climate change, and sea-level rise.
  • Sharing stories of natural history on islands. This includes narratives about managing invasive species; protecting unique habitats and biota; finding the elusive balance between environment and development in small island spaces.
  • Sharing lessons of climate change and governance on islands; to include such issues as food security, non-fossil fuel energy, living with the threat of natural disaster, health and quality of life, coping with hurricanes and typhoons, vulnerability and resilience.
  • Sharing lessons of connections lost and gained. Islands are dependent upon connections with the outside. Issues include transportation challenges, impact of new technology (such as the Internet) on island life; connecting archipelagos; skills, training and education for the 21st century; marine and maritime initiatives / green and blue growth models and prospects.
  • Sharing stories of Indigeneity and resilience. Island colonialism and post-colonialism. Islands that have been built, bought and sold, co-opted and abandoned.
  • Other island-themed papers, presentations, and panels are also welcome as they pertain to the discipline of Island Studies, especially those that engage with an “island imagination.”

We welcome submissions that look at these themes on a case by case, island by island, or regional basis. All disciplinary perspectives are welcome. We are especially keen to engage with presentations that wish to push the theoretical boundaries of Island Studies, as well as wish to adopt a more comparative framework or methodology in their critical analysis. Finally, different formats are encouraged: traditional papers, panels, Pechakucha, and posters are all welcome.


Abstract Submission: 31 December 2019
Notification of Acceptance: 31 January 2020


Registration will open on 17 January 2020. Click here to register.

Registration costs:

Early Bird Regular: $400(+HST)
Early Bird Student: $300(+HST)
Early Bird Lifetime ISISA Member: $373.89 (+HST)
[After April 30th] Regular: $550(+HST)
[After April 30th] Student: $400(+HST)
[After April 30th] Member: $523.89(+HST)
(All costs in Canadian Dollars) 


 The International Small Islands Studies Association (ISISA) is pleased to announce a scholarship competition to assist students (mainly postgraduate) to meet part of the expenses of attending this conference.

A maximum of TEN (10) awards, equivalent to $500[USD] each, will be made to suitable student candidates, who will be presented with their awards at the Conference.

Applications, by email only, should be sent to the ISISA Executive Committee member, Dr. Laurie Brinklow, at, by 20 January 2020, and must include the following:

  • name and current institutional affiliation of the student applicant;
  • postal address;
  • email address;
  • name of degree for which the student applicant is registered and year of registration;
  • title of paper to be presented at the Conference;
  • abstract of paper as submitted to the Conference; and
  • statement of up to 150 words on why it is important for the student applicant to attend this conference.

The applications will be considered by a panel consisting of both ISISA office holders and representatives of the Conference organisers, whose decision will be final. Selection will be based on merit of abstract, as well as by an interest in ensuring a regional and disciplinary diversity of participants.

To qualify for consideration, students MUST have their abstracts accepted by Conference; any application from a student whose abstract is not officially accepted will not be considered for an award.

Note: Scholarship beneficiaries are still required to pay the conference registration fee. The conference fee is discounted for bona fide students to encourage their participation.

Trip to Woody Island Resort

We are pleased to offer a little something extra for those delegates who wish to spend a few days (June 19 and 20th) enjoying Newfoundland prior to the launch of the conference.

The Woody Island Resort is a vacation destination like no other. Situated on a rugged island in Placentia Bay that was resettled in the early 1970s, it is the place to enjoy Newfoundland traditions--like the iconic kitchen party, sing-a-longs with local musicians, and traditional home-cooked meals. The resort holds Trip Advisor’s "Certificate of Excellence" for accommodations that consistently earn top reviews from travelers.

Just two hours outside of St. John’s, the two-day, one-night agenda includes boat transportation, accommodations, meals, complimentary glass of wine with dinner, live entertainment, a beach boil-up and a trip on the bay, all for $175 CAD per person (+HST)+ the cost of bus travel to Garden Cove (to be confirmed based on number of participants).

See a sample agenda (with activities, etc.) here, and for more general information, visit their website.

Reservations can be made by calling 1-800-504-1066 (in North America) or emailing (international).

If you wish to experience Woody Island, please ensure your travel plans get you to St. John’s by June 18, as the bus will leave early in the morning of June 19. You will be back in St. John’s on June 20 just in time for an evening meal or a night out on George Street!

If you have any questions, contact one of our conference organizers: Janet @ jharron[at] or Mandy @ mandy.rowsell[at]

This website is under development. Check back frequently for updates.

We are very pleased that our colleagues from the Canadian Association for Irish Studies are joining us for the last day of the conference as they gear up for their own conference on North Atlantic Worlds from June 25-28. This is a great opportunity to particpate in both conferences in a unique location that is the island of Newfoundland. 

For more information, contact Mandy at mandy.rowsell[at] or call (709)-864-2275.


We are Here

230 Elizabeth Ave, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1B 3X9

Postal Address: P.O. Box 4200, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1C 5S7

Tel: (709) 864-8000