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Keywords:

  • aizjomi;
  • coastal landscape;
  • Latvia;
  • taskscape

abstract.

This article considers the history of a particular Latvian cultural landscape, located on the coast of the Baltic Sea. Known as an aizjomi landscape, it consists of small, humanly made tilths on the seashore. These features are both physical elements and repositories of historical and cultural meaning. In one sense, through hard labor humans created the aizjomi landscape, adjusting the morphological and dynamic elements of the landscape and continually maintaining them. These human efforts made agriculture possible in the dunes, and in so doing they fashioned a means for producing a livelihood and, indeed, for sustaining life. The aizjomi landscape became a materialization of the people's day-to-day life in the middle and late nineteenth century and can thus be considered a “taskscape,” pulsating simultaneously with the rhythm of nature and historical events. I have analyzed empirical evidence from archival documents, reviewed ecological and historical studies, and conducted field research on specific farming practices that shaped the landscape that, in turn, shaped agricultural activities. Through a retrospective analysis I trace the development and decline of the aizjomi landscape.