The Resurgent Wire-Bird: Coming immediacy and new threads of connection to Saint Helena

Authors: Owen Jennings*, University of Hawaii - Manoa
Topics: Communication, Transportation Geography
Keywords: Connection, Aviation, Internet, Islands
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: Download



Saint Helena is often described as one of the world’s most remote islands, famously used as such for the imprisonment of Napoleon Bonaparte. Two developments, one complete, and one planned, have the potential to considerably change the island’s perception of remoteness. “The World’s Most Useless Airport,” as the media prematurely declared it, is now the primary passenger transport between Saint Helena and the outside world, replacing hundreds of years of maritime passenger links. Meanwhile, the South Atlantic Express fiber optic cable, planned for service in 2021, will be laid between South Africa and Brazil, connecting Saint Helena in the process. The cable will replace the slow and expensive satellite internet connection that currently serves the island. In much of the Global North, these two forms of connection, commercial passenger aviation and fiber optic cable aided internet, are expectations. The immediacy they facilitate is also expected. Using data from semi-structured interviews from Saint Helena conducted in 2016, this poster will demonstrate the primacy of these two forms of connection to the experiences of communities in many remote islands. Saint Helenians (Saints) are now able to fly to Johannesburg in a similar numbers of hours as the number of days it took to travel by ship to Cape Town. Soon the island may also have at least 5,000 times its current internet bandwidth. Through these two technologies, Saints are being re-connected with a globalized world and its evolving expectations of immediacy.

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