Reply To: Mon 14 Apr: The Perception of the Environment

Author Replies # Posted on April 15, 2014 at 13:28

Seminar reflection on 14th April

By Yongliang Gao

Landscape is never a concept that worth a definition to me until I read Ingold (2000). “Land” seems to be a quantitative term to Ingold, which is countable and measurable; while “landscape” seems to be a qualitative one, which is non-countable and non-measurable. Personally, I doubt that because (1) since landscape comprises of land (as well as water according to Ingold), it is certainly countable as the land is a component of the landscape, which one can calculate the length, size, height, depth, and etc of the land (and water), so could the landscape. (2) Seeing landscape as a qualitative concept though, one can still measure it given a specific context. For example, by asking the question that among the landscape A, B, C, which one do you prefer to travel/live/get away from? One can rank the landscape A, B, C according to his/her own evaluation standard. In that case, the landscape is counted and measured, although no numeric measurement stands out there. My point here is that Ingold treats “landscape” as a non-countable and non-measurable concept because he singles out landscape as an individual concept and avoids the comparison with other landscapes. More importantly, I think there is no need to give a definition of landscape as it covers all. Instead, it might be legitimate to define it in a specific context.

Besides, the discussion of the chapter 8 is centered on the positions of the indigenous people and immigrant settlers to the landscape. Some illustrated the instance of the Sammi people who dwell in Stockholm. They argued that it is political or academic concerns, whereas for the Sammi this is not a problem because even they moved to Stockholm, they still connect with their ancestors and their own cultures remained in some way. I doubt that because they didn’t consider the geographic width and the complexity in ethnicity for their arguments. To illustrate: (1) what if the Sammi people moved not to Stockholm, but somewhere much further, where the culture and tradition are completely different (Asia, Africa, for example), what would the position of the Sammi people be towards the landscape, if they cannot colonise the land or change the local culture? (2) The Sammi is actually a bad account of the ethnicity issue. This is because the ethnic constitution of Swedish is relatively simple compared to many of the countries in the world and Swedish people might be delightful to accept the Sammi people as well as their culture since the Sammi has long resided here in Scandinavia. But I am sure not every society is welcoming to the outsiders or say ethnic minorities. A devastating example is how the Nazi treats the Jew. This means, if the Sammi lives, not in Stockholm, but somewhere in which the culture is different and the indigenous people are hostile, they would not live a happy life as they are today. In my opinion, what determines the attitude of the indigenous people towards the landscape surrounds them depends highly on the ethnic group they belong to, to which time frame do they sire to their ancestors and what kind of social atmosphere haunts them.