My PhD research looks at the role that people with connections to Scotland’s islands could play a part in the future of the islands. This includes looking at how those with island connections might contribute to a sustainable and balanced repopulation of the islands via return migration.
I am looking to speak to people with island connections who are actively looking to move to a Scottish island or have moved to an island in the last 10 years as part of my research.
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Research already tells us that, if we want to make sure our islands have a sustainable future, many of them will need to maintain or increase their populations by encouraging more people to move there. Return migration – people with connections to an island moving ‘back’ to the island – is one of the ways this could happen.
My research project focusses on those who have an ongoing connection with one or more of Scotland’s islands even though they don’t live on an island at the moment. This includes people who have grown up on islands or who moved there as adults, but have since moved away. It also includes people with family and long term social connections to an island and who actively stay connected with their island though they currently live elsewhere.
I plan to work with this group of people, who I call the ‘islands diaspora’, to find out more about how they stay connected to their islands while living elsewhere. I will also be talking to people who either want to return to live on an island or have already made the move to understand more about their hopes and the realities of return.
With this research I aim to understand the role that those living off-island could potentially have in creating balanced and sustainable population profiles on our islands, both now and in the future. I hope that this work will be useful to policy makers and people making decisions about the future of our islands at all levels, including those working on the ground in island communities.