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Landscape Biographies

Landscape Biographies: Geographical, Historical and Archaeological Perspectives on the Production and Transmission of Landscapes

Jan Kolen
Johannes Renes
Rita Hermans
Rita Hermans
Koos Bosma
Hans Renes
Freek Schmidt
Sjoerd Kluiving
Rob van der Laarse
Jan Kolen
Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 336
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  • Book Info
    Landscape Biographies
    Book Description:

    Landscape Biographiesexplores the long, complex histories of landscapes from personal and social perspectives. Twenty geographers, archaeologists, historians, and anthropologists investigate the diverse ways in which landscapes and monuments have been constructed, transmitted, and transformed from prehistory to the present, from Manhattan to Shanghai, Iceland to Portugal, England to Estonia.

    eISBN: 978-90-485-1780-0
    Subjects: Sociology, Archaeology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-16)
  3. Preface
    (pp. 17-20)
    Hayden Lorimer
  4. 1 Landscape Biographies: Key Issues
    (pp. 21-48)
    Jan Kolen and Johannes Renes

    As an essential part of human life worlds, landscapes have the potential to absorb something of people’s lives, works and thoughts. But landscapes also shape their own life histories on different timescales, imprinted by human existence, affecting personal lives and transcending individual human life cycles. This combination of reciprocity and distinctness creates a strong but complex intertwining of personhood and place – an intertwining which most people become aware of during their own lifetime. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that the ‘co-scripting’ of landscapes and people figures prominently in literature, autobiographies and academic research, as well as in our...

  5. 2 The Marsh of Modernity The Bog in our Brains and Bowels
    (pp. 49-70)
    Edward H. Huijbens and Gisli Palsson

    Nature is unruly, continually causing problems through flooded rivers and perfect storms and, of course, receding glaciers and global warming. In the modernist language of mainstream ecology, things spin out of control, beyond steady states and tipping points. While some of these events may be less surprising than they used to be, they often pose spectacular problems for human society and, as a result, demand close attention and concerted action. Wetlands have repeatedly provided apt examples, refusing to “behave”. Representing a substantial part of the earth’s land surface (about 6%), wetlands occur practically everywhere, on every continent (except Antarctica), in...

  6. 3 Biographies of Biotopes
    (pp. 71-98)
    Jan Kolen

    Even more so than the large urban networks of our time, the natural landscapes of the prehistoric past appear to have been anonymous entities, largely devoid of humans and lacking individual authorship. However, on closer inspection, even the most ‘anonymous’, ‘natural’ and ‘original’ of landscapes bears the imprint of human authorship and personal identity, not only in terms of past human presence and practices, but also in terms of aesthetic experiences, retrospective vision, scientific interpretation and naturalist engagement. For this reason, this chapter explores the possibilities of a biographical approach to places and landscapes that we conventionally experience as natural....

  7. 4 Automobile Authorship of Landscapes A Biographical Vignette of Iceland’s Interior
    (pp. 99-116)
    Edward Huijbens and Karl Benediktsson

    On the road map you won’t drive off the edge of your known world. In space as I want to imagine it, you just might (Massey, 2005, p. 111).

    [L]andscapes without authors would be like books without writers. They too might exist, but only as bindings filled with empty pages (Samuels, 1979, pp. 64-65).

    In landscape studies, the idea of ‘biography’ originates in American geography (Samuels, 1979) and was primarily concerned with biographies of individual people in the (not-too-distant) past and the influence of their decisions and actions upon the landscape (see also Meredith, 1985). A biography of a landscape...

  8. 5 Authenticity, Artifice and the Druidical Temple of Avebury
    (pp. 117-142)
    Mark Gillings and Joshua Pollard

    The prehistoric stone circle complex at Avebury on the Wiltshire chalkland of southern England is the largest of its kind in Europe (figure 5.1). A 420-metre-diameter earthwork encloses a ring of huge standing stones, which in turn encloses two other roughly circular configurations of megaliths with further stone settings at their centres. Radiating out to the south and west are linear avenues of megaliths that snake out across 3.5 kilometres of the surrounding chalk landscape to link the Avebury structures to other prehistoric earth and stone monuments. The henge earthwork and the stone settings all belong to the third millennium...

  9. 6 Places That Matter Megalithic Monuments from a Biographical Perspective
    (pp. 143-166)
    Ludvig Papmehl-Dufay

    My wife and I recently bought a house. It is not a new one, it is nearly 120 years old and has been inhabited by farmers all of this time. It was built in 1892 on the remains of two older houses that were destroyed in a fire that same year. From people in the neighbourhood we have learned some details about people who resided in the house before we bought it, and through findings within the four walls we have come in close ‘contact’ with specific events in the history of the house, such as the covering of old...

  10. 7 What Future for the Life-History Approach to Prehistoric Monuments in the Landscape?
    (pp. 167-182)
    Cornelius Holtorf

    Although things are not living beings, in a metaphorical sense they can be considered to have lives. Things are made; they often do something; and over time many things move from place to place. Their meanings and functions change in different contexts. As time goes by things age and eventually they end up at a final resting place where they gradually disintegrate. Things can reach very different ages, from a few minutes to many millennia, but once dead only very few are brought back, for example as antiques or collectables, and given additional meanings in a new life. Accounts of...

  11. 8 ‘To Preserve the Terrain in its Present State’ Authorship and Conservation in the Eerder Achterbroek Protected Landscape Area (The Netherlands)
    (pp. 183-204)
    Michiel Purmer

    In 1949 a small series of photographs was taken on the country estate of Eerde (province of Overijssel, The Netherlands). The photographs, that were probably commissioned by the new owner, theVereniging tot Behoud van Natuurmonumenten in Nederland(Society for the Protection of Natural Monuments in the Netherlands; shortly known as ‘Natuurmonumenten’), for publicity purposes, ended up in the archives of the Society. When visiting the exact locations of these pictures, the resemblance is often striking. The two oaks in the photo (see figure 8.1a and b) hardly seem to have grown in the past 60 years. This is a...

  12. 9 The Quiet Authors of an Early Modern Palatial Landscape Transformation without Reconstruction at King William’s Het Loo
    (pp. 205-234)
    Hanneke Ronnes

    Academic research into elite architecture focuses mainly on the first building phase and, to a lesser extent, on later building campaigns; not on the much longer periods in between when the houses were actually lived in. Moreover, in such studies the research method or perspective used is predominantly that of art (or architectural) history; a cultural-historical approach is rare.

    In addition to a focus on moments of construction, scholars usually pay much attention – especially in recent decades – to elite architecture as a symbol or an instrument of power. ‘Legitimization and the promotion of fame among contemporaries and for...

  13. 10 Piet Mondrian’s Victory Boogie Woogie, 1942-44 The Painting as Illustration of the Biography of Landscape
    (pp. 235-252)
    Jürgen Stoye

    New York is a city of extreme dimension. Its rectangular pattern, its verticality and density have a strong impact on the image of the city as well on how the city is imaged and imagined. Lyonel Feininger, Georgia O’Keefe, Alfred Stieglitz, Erich Mendelsohn, to name just a few, all were impressed by it. When setting their impressions on canvas or capturing it in a photograph, almost always the same perspectives are chosen: a flight of endless streets, a view from below to the heights of the towering buildings, a view from a certain height on a collage-like cityscape, or the...

  14. 11 Shanghai: The Biography of a City
    (pp. 253-282)
    David Koren

    If a city had to represent a century, Paris would be the symbol of the 19thand New York of the 20thcentury. The undisputed candidate for the 21stcentury is Shanghai, the largest city of China, which in turn is – in terms of population – the biggest country in the world. Moreover, the Chinese economy is the second largest in the world and Shanghai is undoubtedly the city that is pulling it forward. Twenty years ago, few could have imagined that this city would gain such a prominent position. Shanghai’s role seemed to have been played out after...

  15. 12 A Kaleidoscopic Biography of an Ordinary Landscape Analysis of the Development of the Neighbourhood Buiten Wittevrouwen (Utrecht – the Netherlands)
    (pp. 283-308)
    John de Jong

    Reconstructing the biography of a landscape is like trying to unscramble a scrambled egg. You just cannot do it. Due to the variety of authors, the multiplicity of their actions, as well as the evolving condition of social relations, any attempt to unravel the social processes that underlie the transformation of our physical world is reckless. Moreover, it would be an impossible challenge to describe in detail the reverse impact the environment had on the knowledge, perceptions and practices of people that lived in the past. In addition to this complexity regarding the interpretation of the cultural dimension of landscape,...

  16. 13 The Cultural Biography of a Street Memory, Cultural Heritage and Historical Notion of the Visserstraat in Breda, the Netherlands (1200-2000)
    (pp. 309-326)
    Wim Hupperetz

    The concept of cultural biography is applied to cultural landscapes and urban environments in order to get a grip on the complex and layered memory, stored in one way or another, linking spatial-physical environments and people, dead or alive. In my research I use the metaphor ofmemory, which focuses on the same aspects. A biography and a memory are similar, in that they are both linked to people and they reflect dynamic and cyclical aspects of the past.

    This chapter presents a scheduling principle that can be used to improve the practical approach to cultural history. It is not...

  17. 14 Post-Industrial Coal-Mining Landscapes and the Evolution of Mining Memory
    (pp. 327-344)
    Felix van Veldhoven

    The landscape tells – or rather is – a story. It enfolds the lives and times of predecessors who, over the generations, have moved around in it and played their part in its formation. To perceive the landscape is therefore to carry out an act of remembrance, and remembering is not so much a matter of calling up an internal image, stored in the mind, as of engaging perceptually with an environment that is itself pregnant with the past (Ingold, 1993, p. 152).

    In hisSnail and Snail Shell: Industrial Heritage and the Reconstruction of a Lost World(2004), historian...

  18. 15 Fatal Attraction Nazi Landscapes, Modernism, and Holocaust Memory
    (pp. 345-376)
    Rob van der Laarse

    Landscape and heritage form a strong couple in European culture. Since the Renaissance landscapes have been perceived as ‘art’ and valuated by scenic qualities, represented in painting and reproduced through design and architecture. This connoisseurship is still a basic assumption of heritage conservation and tourism, working under the fetish of authenticity by singling out aesthetic styles and iconic periods. Although recent biographical approaches to historical landscapes have opposed this reductionism by stressing long-term development, the landscape/mindscape nexus can – in my view – not be grasped by the prevailing metaphor of an archaeological layering of time. Alternatively, a more dynamic...

  19. 16 A Biography for an Emerging Urban District Discovering Open Spaces in the Former Carlsberg Breweries, Copenhagen
    (pp. 377-402)
    Svava Riesto

    The city always changes. Urban projects are interventions in the city’s dynamics. Each urban project alters a part of the city – its materiality and contexts and how we perceive and understand it. Heritage experts and designers involved in such processes constantly make choices as to which qualities of a site are discarded or reused and how this happens. These assessments and the values that they are based on are, however, not always articulated and openly discussed.

    Much of the urban development in Europe today takes place on sites that are already built; it is urbanre-development. Often, the starting...

  20. 17 Layered Landscapes A Problematic Theme in Historic Landscape Research
    (pp. 403-422)
    Johannes Renes

    In Dutch landscape studies, the biography of landscape has become a popular theme during the last decade, being used as a basic ingredient for many local studies as well as a large research programme (Kolen, 2005; Bloemerset al., 2010). However, the landscape biography is not a hermetic theory, but rather an inspiring metaphor, used as an umbrella for a number of ideas that have changed the ways we look at the history of as well as the actual dealing with landscapes (see the introductory chapter of this volume). The core of this set of ideas is the vision of...

  21. 18 Biographies of Landscape: Rebala Heritage Reserve, Estonia Locals’ Perceptions of Landscape Heritage
    (pp. 423-438)
    Helen Sooväli-Sepping

    Heritage protection in Estonia is slowly following the steps of a European paradigmatic shift from focusing solely on the conservation and protection of localised, material objects towards conservation and protection of the environment in its widest sense of the word. Moreover, public debates about what is heritage and who is in charge of heritage management have emerged among different social groups. These discussions accord with the theoretical considerations about the role of heritage in society. Heritage experts Jan Kolen and Mathijs Witte (2006), among others, argue that cultural heritage is not only related to buildings and sites, but also to...