Agriculturae Conspectus Scientificus, Vol 64, No 4 (1999)

Cultural Landscapes as Symbols of National Identity-Protection or Change? The Shifting Aspects of Landscape Identity


Pages: 259-268


The problem of landscape identity is particularly present in the view of the current changes in rural land-use patterns, where, as a consequence, the identities of traditional rural societies seem threatened. The problem lies in the perception of spatial identity as a physical phenomenon, while in reality it is an ever evolving relationship. The social conception of the national space is shaped within the processes of communication, and tends inevitably towards uniformity, regardless of its actual geographical diversity. Specific landscapes within national space emerge as representative of the whole, usually appearing as symbolic places or as conceptualized landscape types composed of various and distinct landscape features. Following the survey of historical relations between the generation of national consciousness and space, the research continued with the analysis of pictorial presentations of landscapes in tourist and political advertisments and with a public opinion survey. The results show that national identity is defined not only by symbolic places but also by special landscape types and that the popular conception of national space does not exist as an absolute: It changes in different time periods and adopts various meanings among particular social strata or groups depending on the context of its use. The study confirmed the existence of a motif that is no longer linked to a precisely specified place and thus loses the particularities of a concrete location. No longer linked to a specific geographic location, it assumes the role of the representative of the whole in the conception. Thus the concept in all its forms does not necessarily relate directly to the contemporary physical reality of the environment.


identity; landscape; social conception

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