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Dr Eve Hepburn Leads ESRC Project

'The Politics of Island Regions'

Dr Eve Hepburn of Politics/IR has become Principal Investigator on an ESRC Small Grant on 'The Politics of Island Regions: A Framework for Comparative Research'. This is a two-year project with a grant of £80,632.

Islands have developed some of the most innovative forms of sovereignty in the world. Being typically small and insular, islands such as Åland, Prince Edward Island (PEI) and Sardinia have repeatedly rejected outright independence in favour of developing unique status arrangements with larger state or supranational bodies. Yet rather than representing an oddity in the world political order, islands are in fact illustrative of the creative governance arrangements that many states have adopted to accommodate diversity. The experience of small islands offers important lessons for states such as the United Kingdom, Italy and Spain, which are undergoing processes of 'asymmetrical' spatial rescaling.

This ESRC-funded pilot project will map the politics of island regions in Åland, PEI and Sardinia, in order to lay the empirical and theoretical foundations for a large-scale research project on island politics. The main research question is: How do island regions negotiate their autonomy within larger political structures?

The project focuses on five independent variables that determine the degree of island 'autonomy'. Dr Hepburn will undertake field research in each case, including the collection of empirical data and interviews with party and government officials, in order to develop and test several hypotheses on island-state relations.
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