Open Conference Systems, RUC Sunrise Triple C Conference: Climate – Change – Communication

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Territorial identity and symbolic landscapes
Ole Erik Hansen

Last modified: 2010-04-19


The purpose of the article is to reflect on the significance physical, chemical and biological factors are attached as part of an ongoing cultural process dealing with our relationship with the landscapes around us.

 Based on examples from recent research in cultural geography and environmental science, our point of departure is constructivist theories stating that there are no direct relation between the physical and the biological conditions and the cultural level. But there is a mediated relationship where certain features of "nature", cultural interpretations and landforms are linked in ideal-typical constructions.

 We are here dealing with cultural translation on particular portions of "nature", and this translation is not only material, but also spiritual, ideological and symbolic. The article will trace examples of the transformation of specific areas in Denmark, Sweden and Germany from ordinary landscapes, to symbolic landscapes, to actual enshrinements as national parks or wildlife reserves. In this sense, we see landscapes acting as a locus of meaning and symbolism, that among other things creates a sense of belonging and territorial identity that has been particularly strong in recent years.

 We argue for a closer look of the social and cultural values that underlie perceptions and use of nature, landscape, and the environment. These values,  embedded as they are in specific power relations, are decisive for the production and maintenance of certain perceptions of nature and landscapes.

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