For centuries, nature has played significant roles in the Persianate world. Across generations and beyond national borders, Persian gardens and parks have carried traces of narratives, beliefs and attitudes of those who designed, built and used them. This article explores Persian garden history and philosophy, and the emergence of urban parks in Iran. It examines the evolution of cultural attitudes and their reflections in contemporary meanings, layout and use of parks. Landscape narratives both influence and are shaped by shifting cultural values and needs. Urbanisation – and the necessity for urban dwellers to experience ‘nature’ in new environments, sociocultural factors and habitus transformation contribute to the diminution of the role of ‘traditional’ narratives in contemporary design. Nevertheless, the importance of spaces of stillness in landscape design, inherited from Persian garden ideology, influences recreational behaviour in Iran’s contemporary urban parks.
Traditional and Contemporary Uses of Gardens and Parks in Iran
Bridges from Ethnography to Art
In an interdisciplinary workshop in the former Iron Curtain borderlands of the Czech Republic and Bavaria seven multi-national artists and one European ethnologist revealed the cultural dynamics of boundaries both by exploring an expressive landscape and memory field, and by experiencing cultural difference as reflected in the co-operation and creation processes within the group. By using ethnographic approaches to assist the process of developing and conceptualising artworks and self-reflexive, ethno-psychoanalytic interpretation, the project followed the impact of twentieth-century border frictions and violence into collective identities, but also the arbitrary character of borders. The results suggest how a multi-perspective, subjectively informed methodology of approaching space and spatially expressed memory could be developed both for ethnology and for art, bridging the supposed gap between 'artistic' and 'scientific' methods by combining their strengths in a complementary way.
An Account from the 13th Asian Cinema Studies Society Conference
Tito R. Quiling Jr.
It’s just past 10:00 am on a humid Monday in Singapore, and the streets seemed to have settled after a workday rush. My walk from Arab Street to McNally Street was rather placid, punctuated by moments at intersections, and surrounded by people heading somewhere. Minutes later, I was looking up at the postmodern buildings of LASALLE College of the Arts—a panorama of reinforced concrete, glass, tiles, and steel gleaming under the morning sun. In cinema, spaces and landscapes are primary features. At times, the setting goes beyond the overarching narrative, as it conveys its own story. Given their impact, Stephen Heath (2016) infers that a process occurs in identifying spatial connections to the characters, since “organizing, guiding, sustaining and reestablishing the space are the factors that reveal this process.” The audience absorbs the familiar images or experiences onscreen. However, embodied objects of varying iterations contribute to how environments in films are concretized. On this note, one can ask: in what ways do filmic environments thus project narratives and discourses?
Stefan Heiland, Silke Spielmans and Bernd Demuth
The article examines the relevance of demographic change for the development of rural landscapes, especially in Germany's shrinking regions. To date, no empirical investigations have undertaken the matter. Thus, the article is mainly based on literature analysis and the findings of expert workshops. The research indicates that demographic change does not have as strong impact on landscapes as other factors such as agricultural policy, climate change, and the promotion of renewable energies. Nonetheless, from the perspective of nature conservation, there might be some indirect effects caused by structural and institutional changes of administrations, which could lead to a decline in importance of landscape-related concerns. In addition, changes in environmental consciousness due to rising cultural diversity could lead to a different societal attitude toward landscapes and their values.
A Buddhist Lama’s Perception of a Pilgrimage Cave
This article discusses a Buddhist lama's perception of a cave, situated in Maratika in the eastern part of Nepal, which is a pilgrimage site to both Hindus and Buddhists. In the Buddhist perspective, Maratika is believed to be the location where the mythological hero Padmasambhava achieved immortality and where he left various traces in the landscape, such as footprints in rocks. Mythology and geography thus intersect in Maratika, whereby myth is spatialized and landscape is temporalized. Through a description of a series of events, in which a specific, newly discovered trace was an object of joint attention between the lama, Karma Wangchuk, and myself, the article illustrates how the perception of the landscape is a mediation between dripstone formations on the walls of the cave and the mythology of Padmasambhava.
Landscapes of Infinite Horizons
The aim of this article is to explore the Danish seaside as a culturally framed arena of experience. In the first part of the article, I present the appearance of Denmark's seaside as a recreational location for the Danish middle class. Using Danish films that portray the middle class on holiday, the article illustrates the perceptual consequences of a specific appropriation of the landscape. The analysis of the relationship between landscape and people then introduces anthropological perspectives on time, consumption, and perception. Drawing on ethnographic interviews and comparative observations, I show how accessing and consuming the landscape as a recreational location come to constitute it as a finite arena of infinite time and space, as well as a distinct location that allows for equal social relations.
Landscapes of Displacement
Miles Kenney-Lazar and Noboru Ishikawa
This article reviews a wide body of literature on the emergence and expansion of agro-industrial, monoculture plantations across Southeast Asia through the lens of megaprojects. Following the characterization of megaprojects as displacement, we define mega-plantations as plantation development that rapidly and radically transforms landscapes in ways that displace and replace preexisting human and nonhuman communities. Mega-plantations require the application of large amounts of capital and political power and the transnational organization of labor, capital, and material. They emerged in Southeast Asia under European colonialism in the nineteenth century and have expanded again since the 1980s at an unprecedented scale and scope to feed global appetites for agro-industrial commodities such as palm oil and rubber. While they have been contested by customary land users, smallholders, civil society organizations, and even government regulators, their displacement and transformation of Southeast Asia’s rural landscapes will likely endure for quite some time.
Roger A. Pielke
This essay explores the management and creation of ignorance via an exploration of the landscape of eastern Germany, which has seen profound social, political, and technological changes over the past several decades. Like in many places around the world decision makers in eastern Germany are seeking to reach a future state where seemingly conflicting outcomes related to the economy and the environment are simultaneously realized. The management of ignorance is an important but often overlooked consideration in decision making that the concept of "post-normal science" places into our focus of attention.
Using the concept that landscapes are ideas formed by viewers about their physical surroundings, this article examines visitors' landscape perceptions of two peripheral regions of Europe: Gyimes in the Romanian Eastern Carpathians, and Las Hurdes in the Northern Extremadura of Spain. Both are characterized by exceptional, historically-evolved cultural landscapes and a population that culturally or ethnically differs from the national mainstream surrounding them. Based on literature review, expert consultations, and a questionnaire survey conducted in the research areas, I conclude that due to historical developments, socio-economic settings, and ethnic differences, the outsiders' view of these landscapes can be strongly distorted. In the tourist, misinformation and wishful thinking create a “mental map” that does not represent reality. I also note that along with having a possible impact on inhabitants' landscape perception and their strong regional identity, the outsiders' view might influence policy decisions and therefore the general development of a region.
Cattle Economy and Environmental Perception of Sedentary Sakhas in Central Yakuti
Thermokarst depressions in the permafrost environment of Yakutia (northeastern Siberia) provide fertile hayfields for Sakha cattle economy. These areas of open land in the boreal forest are called alaas in Sakha language. At this northern latitude cattle breeding is particularly in demand of nutritious fodder, because cows spend nine months on average in winter stables. Therefore alaases are the focus of Sakha environmental perception. Sakhas not only dwell in alaases, but through their economic activities, they modify and maintain them. This process is based on control and domination rather than on procurement of food by a “giving“ environment. Villagers in Tobuluk (central Yakutia) consider the areas surrounding their village as controlled islands of alaases (hayfields) in a sea of uncontrolled forest. This article examines Sakha environmental perception in which landscapes and cardinal directions evoke and define each other, and characterize those who reside there. Due to the subsequent transformations of Sakha economy and lifestyle by the Soviet and Russian state administration in the last 100 years (collectivization, centralization, and decollectivization) the way that Sakhas interact with their surroundings has transformed radically within the four generations causing profound differences in the way generations relate to, interact with, and understand alaases.