Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

5. Cultural worlds


Human Matrix

Mapping of Cultural resources

Cultural planning



5. Cultural worlds

5.1 Cultural landscape

5.2 Nature, environment,

Wild places

Animals and other species

Man-built environment

5.3 Ecological organizations and Civil Society

5.4 Preserve the cultural landscape:

Physical reality

Cultural Heritage

Physis and Nomos: Constitution and governing laws


Similar to glaciers, cultural worlds can alter their dispositions over time. They can be entered or be simply by passed since not noticed by those who do not know what to look for. If Baudrillard can say what bewilders people is the indifference of the world because its objects are not moved by what mankind does, then it might be fair to say emotions are projected into the world of objects to give them some meaning but the stories which are spun out of them does not amount to much.

5.1 Cultural landscape

Any landscape is not merely a physical, but equally a cultural one. What is entailed in the term ‘intangible heritage’ to reflect upon what meanings people have given over the ages to a specific place e.g. the Holy Mountain to which Indians refer to or how the Pelion mountains by Volos are known by the smuggler paths, today cultural routes for hikers, says there is a need to link being in nature with man being linked to a society leaving its imprint upon the immediate and surrounding environment.

Landscape as a Provocation

Reflections on Moving Mountains

Doreen Massey

Open University, UK

This article opens with a story of the mobility and varied temporalities of a particular landscape and uses this to reflect on a range of issues that revolve around the different kinds of ‘grounding’ that are appealed to in sociocultural, political and academic life. It reflects upon the relations between human and natural sciences, the nature of appeals between them, and the important, but often questionable, place within this of particular political positions. It goes on to query the role of ‘Nature’ as a grounding to place and landscape and stresses the potentially differential effectivities of contrasting temporalities – between, for example, the temporalities of the taskspace and the temporalities of tectonics. Nonetheless, the argument continues, there are indeed provocations from the moving rocks to the nature of scientific discourse and to debates within political philosophy. It concludes with a conceptualization of both landscape and place as events. [1]

Key Words: anti-foundationalism • ‘dwelling’ • human/natural science relations • landscape • localism • nature • places • space • temporalities • ‘the political’


5.2 Nature, environment, wild places, animals and other species vis a vis man built environments

A river never flows straight; it seeks a path, like no one would think going through a tree. You go around it. Nature means resistance of all different kinds. Even the grass blade swayed by the wind shows resistance up to a certain point. Most telling about man when constructing houses is to bulldoze everything down and to flatten the earth. Some architectural schools in Finland actually incorporate a rock into the design in order to build around it rather than destroying the original natural setting.

A lot can be learned from man’s relationship to animals. While the wild ones are kept increasingly in natural reserves, tamed ones differ in terms of domestication as people move away from farms and into the cities. Most common in the homes are nowadays dogs and cats. There are few in Western Societies which still maintain chickens, pigs and sheep as part of a self sustaining process. In Greece the donkey has all but disappeared; in the Cretan village Kamilari only the priest has undertaken it to keep one as if to preserve the memories of those times when everyone had one to bring back piles of firewood to the house.

The risk of major interferences in nature can upset entire eco systems, the rain forest in Brazil but one outstanding example. The marine biologist Maria Capari upon returning from a workshop in Egypt told about plans to widen the Suez canal with consequences for the Mediterranean sea as other species of fish, including tropical ones, can enter from the Red Sea through the canal the Mediterranean and there upset the entire eco system. The need for widening the Suez canal is a clear response to ever bigger ships themselves dangers to the environments especially when they capsize as the tourist liner by Santorini with oil leakage a definite risk to the waters around that volcanic island of exceptional beauty. Disputes between the ship owner and the government as to who has responsibility for the salvage of the wreckage have delayed any precautionary measures being taken in time, that is before the oil still in the tanks of the sunken ship begins to leak.

5.3 Ecological organizations and Civil Society

Around the term ‘sustainable development’ much has taken place but which presupposes as well that NGO’s and civil society can make a difference in how things are implemented and what development takes place. Interestingly enough NGOs of civil society are considered to have access to other information and therefore they act from quite another knowledge base. That differs from political structures were interest in certain measures is a combination of political deliberations within certain framework conditions and specific interests having become important enough to be on the agenda. Priorities in the latter case are reflected in the budget and what specific activities are funded not by businesses making profits and reinvesting in certain processes of development from research to innovative practices, but public money being spend to preserve and to further the public good. It was quite clear right from the beginning that a world economy under conditions of globalization uses but puts an enormous pressure on use of resources e.g. oil at the risk of leaving environmental and other considerations at best indeterminately as a secondary issue. No where can this be seen so stark in the current focus on climate change linked to how man has not learning to live with nature but transformed the entire world into a global business or into something to be exploited for the sole purpose to make money. This includes tourists going to the Anartic even if this jeopardizes the ecological balance in these sensitive regions. What used to be only explorers has now become a lucrative business to take people to remote areas for the sake of having on a massive scale an experience known through literature as adventurers’ paradise. Consequently it seems nearly impossible for NGOs to organize themselves in such a way that their logic of organization remains consistent with another way of living, less consuming, less in conflict with nature and the environment.


5.4 Preserving the cultural landscape: natural and cultural heritage (physis and nomos as constitution pillars to reflect governance by natural and social law – social justice)

There was organised a conference in Scotland in April 11 – 16, 2005 on:

Cultural Landscapes in the 21st Century
Forum UNESCO - University and Heritage 10th International Seminar
An Inter-Congress of the World Archaeological Congress.

It pertains to ‘Cultural Landscapes, Laws, Management, and Public Participation: heritage as a challenge of citizenship’and departs from the simple assumption that “humans have always interacted with their environment and helped to create and modify landscapes in which they live”. [2]

Humans have always interacted with their environment and helped to create and modify the landscapes in which they live. The last decade or so has seen not only a significant increase in the scope, and in some instances, speed of such developments, but also of our appreciation and understanding of these changes. These range from the suggested impact of global warming, through localised changes in agricultural practice and a variety of forms of economic exploitation, fronted perhaps by developments in tourism, to developments in how landscapes are viewed and studied academically. These, and many other developments, have led to the increased management of landscapes and to more extensive formal protection within national and regional laws. Some argue this has been at the expense of local community interaction with, and control over, their own local environments.

In the past, this meant a certain use of the land while developments since then have not so much altered only these landscapes, but new developments shall certainly alter both the character and use of these particular landscapes. It becomes a matter of preserving and promoting at one and the same time the unique link of natural and cultural dispositions becoming visible at these places with special meanings. The latter is indicated by such names as ‘magic mountain’.

Paros landscape 2008

Conference Themes

1. Cultural Landscapes, Museums and Heritage (Tangible and Intangible)

2. Cultural Landscapes and Visual Culture

3. Cultural Landscapes, Identities, and Communities

4. Cultural Landscapes, Tourism, and Economics

5. Cultural Landscapes and Architecture

6. Cultural Landscapes and Education

7. Cultural Landscapes, Management and Protection

Redesigning a Polluted Italian Province

Posted on: Tuesday, 23 September 2008, 06:00 CDT

International Herald Tribune, 23.9.08, p. 2



By Elisabeth Rosenthal

Before Michele Assunto hauled in his fishing net from the banks of a reed-lined canal here, he used a pole to push the garbage out of the way. "They really need to clean this up," he growled.

Where another canal empties into the sea here at the small community of Porto Badino, the only animals that can survive are giant rats, local officials say. Of course, the sea is not fit for swimming for 200 meters on each side of the outlet, they add with a shrug - yet bathers splash in the Mediterranean nearby.

In many parts of this affluent coastal region southeast of Rome and northwest of Naples, canals dumping effluent into the Mediterranean from farms and factories coexist with fishermen and beach-goers. The area would clearly need considerable work to be returned to a more pristine state. For places as far gone as this one, however, a new breed of landscape architects is recommending a radical solution: not so much to restore the environment as to redesign it.

"It is so ecologically out of balance that if it goes on this way, it will kill itself," said Alan Berger, a landscape architect at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who was excitedly poking around the smelly canals on a recent day and talking to fishermen like Assunto.

"You can't remove the economy and move the people away," he added. "Ecologically speaking, you can't restore it; you have to go forward, to set this place on a new path."

Designing nature might seem to be an oxymoron or an act of hubris. But instead of simply recommending that polluting farms and factories be shut, Berger specializes in creating new ecosystems in severely damaged environments: redirecting water flow, moving hills, building islands and planting new species to absorb pollution, to create natural, though "artificial," landscapes that can ultimately sustain themselves.

Berger, who is the founder of P-Rex, for Project for Reclamation Excellence, based at MIT, signed an agreement with the province of Latina to design a master ecological plan for the most polluting part of this region.

He wants the government to buy a tract of 200 hectares, or nearly 500 acres, in a strategic valley through which the most seriously polluted waters now pass. There, he intends to create a wetland that would serve as a natural cleansing station before the waters flowed on to the sea and residential areas.

Of course, better regulation is also needed, principally to curb the dumping of pollutants into the canal. But a careful mix of the right kinds of plants, dirt, stones and drainage channels would filter the water as it slowly passes through, he said. The land would also function as a new park.

Berger was quick to acknowledge that the approach is vastly different from the kind normally advocated by established environmental groups like the World Wildlife Fund or the Nature Conservancy, which generally seek to restore land or preserve it in its natural state, often by closing down or cleaning up nearby polluters.

In the Florida Everglades, for example, the state is buying and closing a sugar plant to preserve the environment. But that approach may not work in places that are already severely degraded, Berger said.

"The difference between me and WWF," he said, referring to the World Wildlife Fund, "is that when I look at this place, I never think about going back. The solution has to be as artificial as the place. We are trying to invent an ecosystem in the midst of an entirely engineered, polluted landscape."

At first glance, Latina does not look like an environmental disaster zone. Bordered by mountains to the east and the Mediterranean to the west, it is a place of spectacular rural vistas and even a few famous beach resorts, like Sabaudia.

But in many ways, Berger said, it is as damaged and distorted as the area around an abandoned mine in Breckenridge, Colorado, that he is also redesigning, as part of a Superfund cleanup underwritten by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Indeed, the entire environment here is a manufactured one already - and one that is successful, in economic terms at least.

Two thousand years of "water management" have turned the once malaria-infested Pontine Marshes into a region that is among Italy's most prosperous. Latina is home to industrial parks, resorts filled with weekend homes, and farms, some of which make Italy the world's leading producer of kiwis.

Latina's prosperity is built on drained swampland, kept habitable by six pumps as huge and noisy as airplanes, put in place in 1934 by Mussolini. Each day they pull millions of liters of water - up to 36,000 liters a second - out of the soggy ground, directing it into an elaborate system of cement-lined canals that ultimately dump it into the sea.

The entire province would return to marshland in seven days if the pumps were turned off, said Carlo Cervellin of the Pontine Marsh Consortium.

Roman emperors and popes had tried for centuries to drain the marshes to allow better access to the sea along the famed Appian Way, all with limited success. The draining of the Pontine Marshes with pumps was one of Mussolini's engineering triumphs.

What emerged from the swamp was a triumph of Fascist determination as well as one of Italy's economic powerhouses. Mussolini built the city of Latina on the newly dried-out land, where it became a center of industry and farming.

But prosperous does not necessarily mean sustainable.

Berger came to Rome's American Academy in 2007 on a year's fellowship to study the history of the Pontine Marshes. It was only after he started to collect data on the land and the water that he realized how damaged the area was.

"If there was ever a place to know exactly where your food is produced, it's here," he said. "I would only eat from uphill."

Pristine water enters the Latina plain from high mountain streams in the area of Ninfa; it becomes dirtier and dirtier as it heads toward the sea, picking up the runoff from a succession of factories, farms and houses.

Berger found that half of the water in the system was severely contaminated, he said, with phosphorus and nitrogen levels that get worse as it runs through the canals toward the coast.

"In terms of phosphorus, much of the water is in the raw-sewage range, and in terms of nitrates, it was in the swine effluent range - like being right downstream from a pig farm," Berger said.

By the time the water reaches the sea at some outlets, Berger's aerial photos show, it has become a plume of silt filled with pollutants. Pharmaceutical factories and large farms are along the canals. Farmers also use the water for irrigation.

Presented with his research, even local officials were surprised at the portrait of pollution that emerged, but they were impressed enough with the solution he proposed that they are continuing to work with him now that he is back in the United States.

"He studied the zone from a different point of view than ours," said Carlo Perotto, the planning director for the province. "We had different people concerned with water, industry and agriculture. He opened a new way of thinking."

Originally published by The New York Times Media Group.

(c) 2008 International Herald Tribune. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved


[1] Doreen Massey (2006) Landscape as Provocation. Journal of Material Culture, Vol. 11, No. 1-2, 33-48 (2006)
DOI: 10.1177/1359183506062991 http://mcu.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/11/1-2/33


[2] http://www.ncl.ac.uk/unescolandscapes/english/

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