Island Dynamics | Lillegrund 39 | 2300 Copenhagen S | Denmark | Tel.: +45 5340 1982 | E-mail: | Terms & Conditions | © 2016 Island Dynamics

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Island Dynamics | Lillegrund 39 | 2300 Copenhagen S | Denmark | Tel.: +45 5340 1982 | E-mail: | Terms & Conditions | © 2016 Island Dynamics


13-17 January 2019, Longyearbyen, Svalbard

This multidisciplinary conference explores cultural and environmental aspects of darkness. Darkness is a recurring motif: as chaos and void in mythological narratives; as an aesthetic choice or driver of adaptation in architecture and design; as a marker of hidden activity on the dark web; as a source of dread, beauty, or awe in literature and film; as an ambiguously attractive quality in dark tourism; as an ideal threatened by light pollution; as a symbol of otherness in colonial encounters.

Darkness and the impossibility of visual orientation often connote danger, uncertainty, malice, even moral ruin. Indeed, darkness plays so central a role in our understanding of terror that it is deemed worthy of note when a horror film succeeds in terrifying us in the daylight (The Wicker Man (1973), Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975)). Both in the past and today, Western colonialism has addressed its own anxieties by projecting them onto the non-European “dark places of the earth,” as Conrad puts it in Heart of Darkness (1899). Darkness can also be appealing. Tourists are drawn both to the illicit thrill of visiting sites of tragedy and violence and to the humbling majesty of the polar night. In a densely populated world, natural darkness is an increasingly rare experience, leading to the establishment of International Dark Sky Sanctuaries where the stars of the night sky remain visible.

How to make a presentation.

15-minute presentations are welcome on any aspects of darkness in culture and the environment. The deadline for abstracts was 30 June 2018. If you have any questions, please e-mail convenor Anne Sofia Karhio (

Convenor: Anne Sofia Karhio

© Heinrich Eggenfellner

About Longyearbyen, Svalbard.

Longyearbyen (population 2200) is the world’s northernmost town, the main settlement in the vast Svalbard archipelago. Although Svalbard is under Norwegian jurisdiction, this arctic outpost is so remote and its environment so harsh that it was first permanently inhabited in the early 20th century. Longyearbyen was founded as a coal mining town and hosts an arctic sciences university centre, yet life here today increasingly revolves around tourism: both during the summer, when the sun never sets, and in winter, when the sun never rises. The polar night lasts from late October until mid-February. Delegates will have the opportunity to experience the northern lights (aurora borealis) and the deep darkness of the arctic wilderness.

About the conference.

Delegates will arrive in Longyearbyen on 13 January. On 14 and 17 January, delegates will take excursions out into Svalbard’s spectacular Arctic landscape and industrial heritage: 1) a trip into the polar night by dog sled and 2) a visit to one of Longyearbyen’s old coal mines. (The precise excursions are subject to weather.) Conference presentations by delegates will be held on 15-16 January at Radisson Blu Polar Hotel Spitsbergen. Registration covers five dinners and all conference activities.


It has proven necessary for us to close conference registration before the deadline of 31 October. This is due to the combination of unexpectedly large registration numbers and changes in our conference venue due to hotel renovations, which place limitations on our meeting space. If you have any questions, please contact convenor Anne Sofia Karhio (

Full Conference: There are no longer any spaces available for Full Conference registration, which covers all conference events: 5 dinners (13-17 January), excursions on 14 and 17 January, and conference presentations on 15-16 January.

Accompanying Delegate: There are no longer any spaces available for Accompanying Delegate registration, which covers attendance at 5 dinners (13-17 January) and excursions on 14 and 17 January. It does not cover conference presentations on 15-16 January.

Basic Conference: There are no longer any spaces available for Basic Conference registration, which overs attendance at conference presentations on 15-16 January. Does not cover meals or excursions. Early registration fee: DKK 2000 kroner.

Accommodation & travel.

We have been able to offer special room rates (approx. 20% discount) at the conference venue, Funken Lodge. The special rates include breakfast and WiFi. Unfortunately, we can no longer take new bookings for the hotel.

We recommend that delegates for the Full Conference arrive on 13 January and depart on 18 January. We recommend that delegates for the Basic Conference arrive on 14 January and depart on 17 January.

We have also reserved a block of economy class plane tickets on Scandinavian Airlines: 13 January, departing Oslo at 10:00 and arriving in Longyearbyen at 14:10 (SK4414) and 18 January, departing Longyearbyen at 14:55 and arriving in Oslo at 17:50 (SK4491). These tickets are available for purchase from the form to the right for the price of 2350 Danish kroner. People who book flights through Island Dynamics will be able to sit together with other delegates and will still be able to earn bonus points/air miles within the Star Alliance benefits programme. We only have a limited number of tickets, and there are very few flights to Longyearbyen, so we recommend that delegates book their travel early.