The nostalgia of Ulysses, the wait of Penelope, the refuge of Robinson Crusoe, the home of Elsa Morante’s Arturo, the treasure of Edmond Dantès, the exile of Prospero, the prison of Caliban, the utopia of Thomas More, the dystopia of Golding’s Lord of the Flies: islands are places for stories.

This is because they are microcosms; because their margins open up new possibilities for dream, hypothesis and struggle; because, as Godfrey Baldacchino writes in the Introduction to the first issue of the Island Studies Journal, they can be thought of as “tabulae rasae: potential laboratories for any conceivable human project, in thought or in action”. But this is also because islands are observation points, which do not just tell their own, long-kept secrets, but allow us to pose questions that extend beyond their shores: what can we see, from the island, that we could not see outside it? What change of perspective does the island offer us? Robida has always been interested in looking at places from this slanted angle, interrogating places not just for what they are, but what they can say; not just what and why a margin is, but rather how it can speak.

We have therefore imagined and organized Robida 8 as a journey, that can explore aspects of island life along a narrative thread, as if developing the structure of an epic voyage: from the Embarkation – where introductory perspectives on islands are offered –, then into the Departure – which considers the islands from afar, as conceptual entities –, through the Tempest – representative of the turmoils and movement that island stand for –, passing from the Strandedness – where the island coincides with stillness –, to finally approach the Homecoming, and the island as repository of collective as well as personal memory.