The best books to get stranded with on an island

Marina Karides Author Of Sappho's Legacy: Convivial Economics on a Greek Isle
By Marina Karides

Who am I?

Iʻve been travelling to islands before realizing I was seeking them. It was my political convictions that brought me to Haiti and Cuba, and later to Indonesia and Thai Islands due to my philosophical interests. When I headed to Greece for the first time it was to Corfu and the Peloponnese, my lineage, but also to Ithaca, Crete, the Cyclades, and eventually to Lesvos. Now I live in Hawaiʻi. I was attracted to the poetics of island landscapes, but as a scholar of space, society, and justice, I also understood that islands hold distinct sets of constraints and opportunities that require further study with intersectional and decolonial perspectives.

I wrote...

Sappho's Legacy: Convivial Economics on a Greek Isle

By Marina Karides,

Book cover of Sappho's Legacy: Convivial Economics on a Greek Isle

What is my book about?

It is an ethnographic and historical account that includes extensive interviews with Greek women cooperatives and micro-entrepreneurs, and the lesbian enclave in Skala Eresos on Lesvos. Set between Europe and West Asia, Lesvos offers an ideal setting to identify the subtleties of Northern European imperialism and the ethnicization of Greeks to demean Greek economic practices past and present. Sappho’s Legacy reveals that Greek island cultures hold robust forms of ancient and contemporary practices of hospitality, negotiated rather than contracted economic ties, and conviviality, that counter the neoliberal ethos. The volume combines post-colonial queer and feminist and lesbian analyses of space and economy to develop an understanding of Lesvos' island food system and the collective resistance it embodies across a diverse group of actors. 

The books I picked & why

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From a Native Daughter: Colonialism and Sovereignty in Hawaii

By Haunani-Kay Trask,

Book cover of From a Native Daughter: Colonialism and Sovereignty in Hawaii

Why this book?

In writing From a Native Daughter, Haunani Trask—the late and highly-regarded Native Hawaiian scholar-activist—empowers and articulates the rising Indigenous movements in Hawaiʻi and across the Pacific. Her straight talk about tourism and settlers are disquieting but thatʻs what is appealing, she names the US occupation for what it is. What really shines through is the deep love she holds for her island home. Her precise and elegant language rapt me, reading it the year I relocated to Hawaiʻi Island from the island of Miami Beach, Florida. 


By Monique Roffey,

Book cover of Archipelago

Why this book?

Monique Roffey takes you on a father-daughter escape trip sailing from Trinidad to the Galapagos in a sketchy boat to leave behind the loss and sorrow they experienced after a major storm. Thanks to Grace Carr, I was shaped into who I am as a writer and researcher in Trinidad, where I carried out my dissertation work. The Trini cadence for life and love is ubiquitous in this book—it also reminds me of the bond between me and my Dad and our mutual appreciation for a little risk and chaos.

For the City Yet to Come: Changing African Life in Four Cities

By AbdouMaliq Simone,

Book cover of For the City Yet to Come: Changing African Life in Four Cities

Why this book?

This is a spectacular and detailed book—think city as island—that can engross you over and over again. Simone, development activist and scholar, carries us into four African cities and shares the grassroots efforts of people coming together to create systems of trust for economic exchange and meeting social needs—without or outside the state and capital. It is the potential for alternatives that makes this book so attractive to me and inspired my own work on convivial economics. Simone helps us to see that new ways of being and acting collaboratively can spring up and offer a blueprint for how we can move forward in solidarity.

One Hundred Bottles

By Ena Lucía Portela, Achy Obejas (translator),

Book cover of One Hundred Bottles

Why this book?

This novel is both sexy and chilling. It is the journey of a young woman, about her lovers, the intimacy of friendship, and her alluring social life in Havana, Cuba. With each page you sip the intensity of youth and political drama on the island. After traveling to Cuba to protest the US embargo in the 1990s and living for so many years in Miami with friends in the Cuban diaspora, Cuban's transnational socio-cultural complex frames how I think about islands. I relish how Portela writes, she is the friend who coaxes you out, keeps you up all night, with the promises of thrill, excitement, and a bit of danger. 

The Odyssey

By Gareth Hinds,

Book cover of The Odyssey

Why this book?

Hinds' mesmerizing paintings set the scene for a beautiful graphic rendition of The Odyssey. Anyone who has moved or travelled a lot, or seems to not be able to find a way home, can appreciate the story of Odysseus. I read this book many times with my two (once) young children, hopefully preparing them for a life of travel and living in Greece with their wanderer, researcher mom. For us Greek mythology is not for learning a "western" canon, which was never defined by ethnic Greeks anyway. We read the Odyssey to appreciate our roots in Greek island cultures and the hospitality they offer, which this lovely version makes palpable.

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