Recovering the Substantive Nature of Landscape
Article first published online: 23 FEB 2005
Annals of the Association of American Geographers
Volume 86, Issue 4, pages 630–653, December 1996
How to Cite
Olwig, K. R. (1996), Recovering the Substantive Nature of Landscape. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 86: 630–653. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8306.1996.tb01770.x
- Issue published online: 23 FEB 2005
- Article first published online: 23 FEB 2005
- Submitted 7/95; Revised 12/95; Accepted 1/96.
- cultural geography;
- landscape aesthetics;
The full complexity of the ideas of landscape and nature has been largely lost due to a modern tendency to appropriate the meaning of landscape to a concept of nature as scenery. The resulting conflation of meaning has not only led to questionable forms of determinism, it has obscured the substantive meaning of landscape, and related concepts, in European and North American culture. This study of the evolving meaning of a key geographical term advocates a substantive conception of landscape in which substantive is used to mean “real rather than apparent,”“belonging to the substance of a thing.” It is also used in the legal sense of “creating and defining rights and duties.”A substantive concept of landscape is more concerned with social law and justice than with natural law or aesthetics. This essay will seek to recover this substantive meaning of landscape through an historical and geographical analysis of the transformations of meaning undergone by the concepts of landscape and nature.