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The future and understanding of landscape analysis

by on September 18, 2011

As the environment and human interaction with the environment is changing, so must our methods on how we interpret cultural landscape analysis, at least according to Terkenli’s article Towards a theory of the landscape: the Aegean landscape as a cultural image.  Studying landscape methodologies and values requires incorporating social, culture, political, geographical, and historical content of the area.  Terkenli argues that setting up a framework for “multifunctional landscapes” is crucial for understanding the analysis of landscape.  The framework for this analysis is landscape as a concept, landscape as a construct, and landscape as a goal (Terkenli 198).  The author shows how these steps are implemented by using the Aegean cultural landscape as an example.

One way of understanding landscape as a concept is by acknowledging the transitions of culture and landscape through movement of time and space and the connectedness of other cultures  (199).  Looking at sociocultural and political development has changing effects on the environment.  This is similar to the Walters/Vayda article when they state “that understanding the politics is often vital for understanding not only the changes in the environment….but also for the narrative “framing” of environmental problems and issues” (Walters/Vayda 538).  Incorporating many meanings, forms, and functions of landscape help distinguish the analysis of landscape.

Next on Terkenli’s theory of landscape is landscape as a construct.  Terkenli uses the Aegean landscape as an example to show the relationship of culture and landscape and the changes that occur over “time, place, and social context” (202).  Geographical space shapes the way cultures develop over time.  This example of the Aegean landscape shows the variable changes and management that have occur between landscapes and human interaction.

Finally, landscape as a goal helps with future planning of landscape analysis.  This is about finding the “most suitable among appropriate methodologies” for attaining the goal (205).   In this case, boosting tourism and “qualitative improvement” in the Aegean region (205).

These methodologies incorporate every aspect through culture and landscape over time and space.  Terkenli’s well-rounded approach to cultural landscape analysis will help provide future answers to human interaction with the landscape and vice versa.

What are some concerns with Terkenli’s theory on landscape, if any?

Do you agree or disagree with her approach?  Why or why not?

Do you see a connection to any of the other concept/methodologies we have talked about in class?












  1. vcowdrey permalink

    With regard to the term “landscape,” I felt that the author’s various definitions of the term were all valid. I was especially fond of the term “cultural landscape” and its meaning, which was “a portion of land which the eye can comprehend at a glance,” and especially, “ as a visible expression of the humanized environment perceived mainly through sensory, and particularly visual, as well as cognitive processes.” (200) This definition, coincidentally being derived from the oldest meaning of the term “cultural landscape,” has such resonance with me primarily because of the incorporation of vision, cognition, and experience of humans in the landscape. The term “landscape” to me, implies rolling hills, mountains, etc. but all being part of a visual definition. Incorporating the word “cultural” gives much more emphasis to the word because it accentuates the differing landscapes not only based on geographical features, but also the inhabitants themselves. This reminds me of the discussion we had in class following the Mann and Padoch articles about the separation of humans and nature. I had always perceived the word “landscape” as being based on geographical features, however, I had not thought of the inhabitants as being apart of it. The chart on page 200 does a great job of illustrating the interworking of the three factors of cultural landscape and it will be something I pay more attention to in the future.

  2. I had a similar perceptual awakening about the ideas and understandings behind the meaning of the term “landscape.” Previously, i also had always thought of images in my head of geographical features such as hills, mountains, valleys, and so forth whenever i thought of what a landscape was. Now i realize that there is so much more to a landscape than that, and i was especially interested in the idea of how the geography of a landscape can shape the culture of a community. In class discussions it seems that we focus more on how cultural aspects of human impact affect the environment, but we never take into account how much people adapt to their environment when they first settle onto a “landscape”.

  3. My previous ideas about landscape were on the surface. The word “landscape” makes me think of a photograph, or a fragmented piece of the world on a two dimensional surface. Once I really started to think about different fragments of the landscape in Boulder, I started to see the cultural landscape has been constructed around me. Some people build their homes on boulder creek and in the canyons because they want to live in parts of the city that still seem natural. These areas are also in danger of flooding and fires. People manipulate their landscapes to build their homes but the landscape will still change through natural occurrences. According to Terkenli, there is interconnection and interdependence between culture and the landscape. The fragmented pieces begin to connect and a deeper meaning is developed. Humans construct their landscapes in reflection of their society and economy but the landscapes dictate many of these decisions.

  4. I also appreciated the approach Terkenli took on the discussion of landscapes. His description of the complexity of a landscape was interesting, he did a good job exposing the depth and elaboration that is involved in the study of landscapes, quoting “exhibit special identifying features; they function as systems of energy, material and information flow interwoven in real, perceived and symbolic ways”
    (198). Terkenli then continues to describe landscapes as “both materially and perceptually constructed” (199).
    In addition, I also agreed with Terkenli’s ideas regarding categorizing aspects of landscape analysis, as seen in Figures 1 and 2 on pages 200 and 201, feeling that this organization of thinking limits the study. He displayed this by saying, “Categorizing inevitably leads to a loss of interconnectivity among such approaches and essentially among landscape dimensions…and ultimately to the impoverishment of landscape analysis” (201). Overall, I felt this article did a good job connecting to our discussions in class regarding the relationship people have with the environment, while observing it at a broader and dynamic perspective.

  5. 242colleencarey permalink

    Some concerns are that the landscape needs to be viewed in all of its functions, not just natural or cultural. She states that landscapes are used for “ecological stability, economic viability, expression of place and identity, recreational activity, historical dynamics and so on.” Terkenli stresses that all of these aspects must be studied and analyzed when doing cultural landscape analysis.
    I definitely agree with her approach. As we can see in the present day, people use the landscape for so many reasons, including all of the reasons she mentioned. The only way to gain a full view is to study all of the aspects.
    The connections that I see that we’ve talked about in class is once again this idea of culture not being separated from nature. We must look at culture’s affect on nature and nature’s affect on culture.

  6. I completely agree with a few of the comments above by both Kelcy and Emily. My perception of ‘landscape’ has changed a lot throughout the semester. I am not sure what my definition of landscape might have been before but I imagine that I too thought mainly of majestic photographs portraying gorgeous places I would probably never go. I never considered my home town to be a landscape or anything really at all. This class has shown me how close I am to my environment, there is no way for me to separate myself from it and that is exactly as it should be. I should perceive my impacts on the environment and my landscape all the time, not just when I choose to see it.

  7. I thought this article tied nicely with the one that Summer did her blog post on, which focused on the notion of place being multi-layered, and I think that this author’s ideas of the landscape being so much more than just the physical manifestations of a place is important. I think that, to truly understand landscape, one must look not only at the natural, but also the constructed. Megan talked about her hometown as being a landscape and I think that this shift in thought is vital to understanding this class’ topic overall, which is people and their environments. I thought that this article was impressive in that it aimed at looking beyond just the romantic view of landscape, but looked at all landscapes and how they are players in the lives of the people who inhabit them. This semester, looking at all of the different views of place and landscape and environments in relation to culture and people, has been informative in that it gives a wider perspective on what it means to be an anthropologist, a person, a culture, and also what it means to identify with a landscape, whether urban or entirely natural.

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