Gendered Island Futures - Generational Perspectives on Motherhood and Change in the Faroe Islands

  • Schneidermann, Nanna (PI)
  • Gaini, Firouz (PI)
  • Djurhuus, Jónleyg (CoPI)
  • Hermannsdóttir, Turið (CoPI)

Project Details


Gendered Island Futures studies gender and social change in island communities by taking motherhood as a lens for investigating a changing Faroese society, and by building analytical frameworks that recognize mothering roles and practices in producing and reproducing individual and collective futures.

The Faroe Islands is an archipelago with just over 50.000 inhabitants. Family is highly valued and kinship is child-centric (Gaini 2012). While recent research has explored gender and fatherhood in island life (Gaini 2020), the experiences of women in the production of continuity and change remains largely unexplored (Jacobsen 2017, 6). In her seminal work on motherhood, Rich (1976, 13) distinguishes between Motherhood as an institution and identity and Mothering as the potential relationship between a woman and her reproductive powers and her, children. This project takes up this distinction by investigating both images of motherhood and practices of mothering. It adds a temporal dimension to Rich’s framework by developing what I propose as a “generational approach”. It adds a spatial dimension by taking inspiration from recent feminist research (Karides 2017) to examine “islandness” as an aspect of gendered identities. Investigating motherhood and mothering through the perspectives of three generations of Faroe Islanders, the project contributes new knowledge about the role of gender and kinship in processes of social change in island life.

The project aims to establish island gender studies as a field of scientific inquiry in the Danish kingdom, by advancing knowledge that supports sustainable gender equality in small-scale societies.

It does so by creating a team of leading, international scholars and Faroese stakeholders, and developing a generational approach, using ethnographic, experimental and digital methods.

The research questions are:

How is motherhood shaped by island life at both individual and collective levels?
How are imaginaries and practices of mothering shaping the development of past and future trajectories in island life?
How are contested or “otherwise” forms of motherhood accommodated and impacting ideas of the future?
How are male and other gendered perspectives part of constructing the relationship between biological and social reproduction in the Faroe Islands?

Layman's description

Gendered Island Futures explores previously unexplored perspectives on motherhood and social change in the Faroe Islands. We examine motherhood from different gendered perspectives, but also from three different generational perspectives. The project develops what we call a generational approach to motherhood and social change by interviewing interconnected lives across generations, combined with participants' own archives such as photo albums, social media, or home videos. In addition, we also see our generational approach as research that generates new perspectives on gender and motherhood in the Faroe Islands.
Short titleGendered Island Futures
Effective start/end date1/08/2331/07/26

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality


  • Motherhood
  • Family
  • Future
  • Islands
  • Faroe Islands
  • Anthropology


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