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Landscapes, spatial totalities or special regions?


Backhaus, N (2011). Landscapes, spatial totalities or special regions? Procedia - Social And Behavioral Sciences, 14:193 - 202.

Abstract

Landscapes have become important resources that are claimed by different interest groups. Different perceptions and experiences of landscapes and different entitlements can result in misunderstandings and conflicts. This can be problematic if stakeholders do not recognise that their experience is one of many and that there is no such thing as an absolute view on landscapes. In contrast to everyday conceptions and some scientific notions (cf. Bai-Lian Li, 2000; Berque 1986 in Reichler, 2002; Fry, 2001; Nassauer & Opdam, 2008; Naveh, 2001; Schlögel in Hard, 2008; Tress, et al., 2001) we do not conceive landscapes as encompassing the totality of a certain section of space that researchers should strive for to grasp. Rather we envisage landscape as a sphere of coexisting heterogeneity (Massey, 2005) that is under tension (Wylie, 2007). Therefore, the same landscape can be perceived in various different ways and consequently it is being regionalised in different ways too. This, however, is not always recognised in a reflected and discursive manner. Rather, many think that their own perception of landscapes and the regionalisation that is connected with this is more or less the real thing. Photography and other image processing techniques even enhance this notion, implicitly telling the beholder of images that she gets what she sees and that landscapes are what they look like. Especially when it comes to developing and protecting landscapes an absolute understanding of landscapes as a totality can be problematic. In order to make different views of landscapes and different regionalisations transparent we propose a model of landscape perception and experience that is open to accommodate different scientific and everyday approaches without trying to capture landscape's totality (cf. Backhaus, Reichler, et al., 2008; Backhaus, 2010; Backhaus & Stremlow, 2010, see figure 1). Moreover, this model offers a possibility to combine the concept of region and regionalisation with the concept of landscape that is better suited to grasp emotional attachments to locations as well as a sense of place (Cresswell, 2004). The concept is tested with an empirical vignette: an analysis of a journey through the Alps that took place in the 18th century.

Landscapes have become important resources that are claimed by different interest groups. Different perceptions and experiences of landscapes and different entitlements can result in misunderstandings and conflicts. This can be problematic if stakeholders do not recognise that their experience is one of many and that there is no such thing as an absolute view on landscapes. In contrast to everyday conceptions and some scientific notions (cf. Bai-Lian Li, 2000; Berque 1986 in Reichler, 2002; Fry, 2001; Nassauer & Opdam, 2008; Naveh, 2001; Schlögel in Hard, 2008; Tress, et al., 2001) we do not conceive landscapes as encompassing the totality of a certain section of space that researchers should strive for to grasp. Rather we envisage landscape as a sphere of coexisting heterogeneity (Massey, 2005) that is under tension (Wylie, 2007). Therefore, the same landscape can be perceived in various different ways and consequently it is being regionalised in different ways too. This, however, is not always recognised in a reflected and discursive manner. Rather, many think that their own perception of landscapes and the regionalisation that is connected with this is more or less the real thing. Photography and other image processing techniques even enhance this notion, implicitly telling the beholder of images that she gets what she sees and that landscapes are what they look like. Especially when it comes to developing and protecting landscapes an absolute understanding of landscapes as a totality can be problematic. In order to make different views of landscapes and different regionalisations transparent we propose a model of landscape perception and experience that is open to accommodate different scientific and everyday approaches without trying to capture landscape's totality (cf. Backhaus, Reichler, et al., 2008; Backhaus, 2010; Backhaus & Stremlow, 2010, see figure 1). Moreover, this model offers a possibility to combine the concept of region and regionalisation with the concept of landscape that is better suited to grasp emotional attachments to locations as well as a sense of place (Cresswell, 2004). The concept is tested with an empirical vignette: an analysis of a journey through the Alps that took place in the 18th century.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Language:English
Date:2011
Deposited On:06 May 2011 07:41
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 14:54
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:1877-0428
Additional Information:Regional Environmental Governance: Interdisciplinary Perspectives, Theoretical Issues, Comparative Designs (REGov) Geneva, 16-18 June 2010. Edited by Jörg Balsiger and Bernard Debarbieux
Publisher DOI:10.1016/j.sbspro.2011.03.036
Permanent URL: http://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-48007

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