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Environmental Relations and Biophysical Transition: The Case of Trinket Island

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To what extent is an island economy cut off from the rest of the world? Defined as a mass of land bounded by water, island societies connect and exchange with their surroundings rather intensely. Based on empirical research, this paper explores the role of a ‘remote’ island society on Trinket in generating or sheltering itself from the process of globalisation in which con-textually given borders are transgressed and displaced. To this end, we apply the concepts of societal metabolism and colonising natural processes operationalised by Material and Energy Flow Analysis (MEFA), and Human Appropriation of Net Primary Production (HANPP) respectively. Using these biophysical indicators, we describe the transition from a metabolism based upon the natural environment to metabolism based on exchange with other societies. Data presented in this paper further reveal a process of industrialisation and integration into the global market of a so-called ‘closed’ and ‘inaccessible’ island society.

Keywords: HANPP; Nicobar Islands; Trinket Island; biophysical transition; material flow; societal metabolism

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.0435-3684.2003.00142.x

Affiliations: Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies at Austrian Universities, Department of Social Ecology, Vienna, Austria

Publication date: December 1, 2003

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