Landscape event (2 December)


The question how people relate to the natural and built environment is central to landscape studies as well as the environmental humanities.

On 2 December, three speakers address questions such as: Can landscape offer democratic answers to the problems that face the world’s environment? How does the preservation of built heritage relate to landscape conservation? And how have cultural representations shaped our views of the ideal landscape?

Since landscape is the place where various disciplines meet to explore the relations between nature and culture, we hope it will prove an inspiring theme for this second event of the Environmental Humanities Center. We welcome everyone interested in landscape and environment, and invite you to contribute to the closing discussion from your particular experience of, or expertise on, the matter of landscape. For catering purposes, we ask you to please register below (free of charge).

Landscape Event

Friday 2 December
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Main Building, room 5A-33

15.30-17.30hrs, with closing drinks reception

The preponderance of the romantic landscape
Maarten Doorman (FGW, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam & FASoS, Maastricht University)

Most people are hardly aware of the romantic character of the landscape outside us. Even those involved in fundamental environmental discussions quite often neglect the unavoidable romantic clichés that give structure to the contemporary discourse of nature.

At the end of the eighteenth century the semantics of the concept of nature changed dramatically. Under the growing influence of Rousseau’s critical disjunction of nature and culture, German philosophy of nature (e.g. Schelling) and English literature (Wordsworth, Southey) a new view on the landscape emerged.

The new view of the western world on ‘nature’ has been dominating for the last two centuries without being articulated as such by most scholars. Maarten Doorman gives an impression of the romantic influence, sketching the rise of romantic landscape interpretation in English nature poetry as well as in German and English landscape painting (C.D. Friedrich, John Constable) in the nineteenth century.

Landscape: gadget or mismatch?
Bas Pedroli (Land Use Planning Group, Wageningen University & Research)

Can landscape offer democratic answers to the problems that face the world’s environment? Currently propagated solutions for the decreasing character of age-old landscapes are business models of museumification, tourism and agricultural innovation. The societal trends, however, are towards a polarisation of the European landscape into monofunctional production spaces and (peri-)urban consumption landscapes, with some remaining area of almost forgotten lands, good for biomass storage and ecotourism. Multifunctionality, which is at the basis of Europe’s landscapes since ages, is just too complicated for today’s straightforward policies striving for job creation and economic prosperity in a level playing field. On the other hand there are hardly people who do not wish to have easy access to a nice liveable landscape at the doorstep, and to characteristic landscapes further away for leisure and holiday. Pedroli will present some reflections on how to overcome this “we don’t get what we want” syndrome.

Landscape and heritage: a planning perspective
Gert-Jan Burgers (CLUE+, FGW, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)

The planning and development of landscapes have long been the domain of planners, architects and civil engineers. During the last decades, however, heritage scholars and managers have increasingly claimed their share; world-wide, professional conservation ethics regarding built heritage have experienced a paradigmatic change. They are increasingly diverging from traditional approaches, which view spatial planning as a major threat to the heritage, in particular where urban renewal is concerned. Recognising that such an attitude tends towards isolation of the heritage from its spatial and societal contexts, national policies and international conventions have stimulated instead its integration in urban planning and design projects (e.g. the Dutch Belvedere Memorandum, the Faro Convention and the UNESCO Recommendations on the Historic Urban Landscape). This developmental approach of heritage planning has widened the spectrum of built heritage to include the landscape at large. However, implementation of these (inter-) national policy frameworks is faced with uncertainties that pose urgent questions to heritage researchers. In this lecture, Burgers will explore these questions and propose solutions.

We thank the research institute CLUE+ for its financial and intellectual support of this event, which was co-organised with the International Association of Landscape Archaeology (IALA). Starting from 2017, IALA will provide a platform for archaeologists, cultural and earth scientists and researchers from neighbouring disciplines to present and discuss results from this broad field of landscape research between the sciences and humanities.







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