Online Workshop – "Do not touch!?"

Questions of Preservation, Transformation, and Sustainability of Landscape as Cultural Heritage

[Translate to English:] CC-BY-SA 4.0, by Hajotthu,

Joint online workshop, Center for Landscape and Culture, University of Tallinn and IFZO, University of Greifswald, May 4, 2020


"Do Not Touch!" - the title of the workshop took on a current significance beyond the intended focus on questions of the preservation and perception of landscapes as cultural heritage in view of the current restrictions on contact. The workshop "Do Not Touch!? Questions of Preservation, Transformation, and Sustainability of Landscape as Cultural Heritage" originally planned for Tallinn took place on May 4, 2020 as a joint online event organized by researchers from the IFZO Clusters Sustainability and On the Presence of Cultural Heritage and the Centre for Landscape and Culture at the University of Tallinn.

Are landscapes part of the cultural heritage? This fundamental question was the focus of the workshop, where various reflections on the concept of cultural landscape were presented. Between the dimensions of preservation and use of cultural landscapes a lively dialogue was relaxed about the transformation of cultural landscapes and the transformation of the landscape concept.

Michael North (University of Greifswald) and Hannes Palang (University of Tallinn) introduced the topic with two different approaches: While North conceptually chose the perspective of the place of remembrance, Palang discussed the concept of cultural sustainability and its influence on the definition of cultural landscapes. Using the Øresund as an example, Michael North explained how the Øresund, as a waterway and access to the Baltic Sea, Sund customs, border and transport route, developed into an identity-forming place of remembrance for an entire region. This is what the Øresund Bridge stands for today. Hannes Palang discussed the influence of the concept of sustainability on the conception of cultural landscape as part of cultural heritage. Cultural landscapes are designed by man. Therefore, these landscapes can be understood as archives in which the creative will and actions of man are visibly preserved. How should we deal with this past? Between Cosgrove and Lotman, Palang summed up that a landscape is sustainable when it is possible to preserve historical relics and traces of the design of a landscape in harmony with the present. The dynamics of the social construction of places of remembrance and cultural landscapes are basically the same, as the discussion that followed revealed. The concept of the place of remembrance or lieu de mémoire developed in the historical sciences by Pierre Nora, among others, and the cultural landscape derived from geography combine the idea of an "archive" of cultural action.

Rural space and mobility between urbanity and wilderness contextualize Raili Nugins (University of Tallinn) reflections on cultural landscapes and their perception as heritage. Constantly subject to change, the rural is also a nostalgic projection. It acts as a driving force and stimulant for dealing with cultural heritage, including through renovation and other forms of appropriation. Nugin used the term living rural heritage for this.

Stefan Ewert (University of Greifswald) supplemented the rural with the historical landscape of the moors. At present, bogs are successful in the global environmental debate as a CO2 storage facility and provider of other ecological services. However, the restoration of drained bogs often collides with the historical idea of the cultivation of bogs. Against this background, the question arises as to whether the currently forced irrigation or restoration of moors could also be understood as a form of cultural wilderness. Is "wilderness" still to be understood as a counter-concept to "cultural landscape"?

In the discussion of both contributions, Eckhard Schumacher (University of Greifswald) recognized the close relationship between renovation and restoration in rural areas and practices of archive work. They are both recognizable as practices of 'visualization'. So are moors not also archives of a cultural landscape? Their preservation is thus also active preservation and updating of cultural heritage.

In the context of the transformation and renovation of cultural heritage, reinvention and further development also belong. They formed the focus of the next two contributions by Antje Kempe (University of Greifswald), Anu Printsmann (University of Tallinn) and Tarmo Pikner (University of Tallinn). Antje Kempe used current urban development projects in Copenhagen as an example of a reinvention of maritime landscapes: Located in Øresund, former port and industrial facilities are being revitalized. This process goes hand in hand with an insularization of the city, which redefines the topos of the port city as a modern place of longing.

In their contribution, Anu Printsmann and Tarmo Pikner problematized the handling of coastal areas and their revitalization in recent years. By means of a comprehensive survey of places and landscapes of the entire North Estonian coastal region, they explained, on the basis of selected locations, how their use has changed over the last two decades as a result of economic and social transformation processes. Their explanations covered the questions of cultural sustainability in the context of transformation processes, which were initially raised by Hannes Palang.

The final discussion summed up the various perspectives on the comparably dynamic shaping of cultural landscapes and cultural heritage: "Do Touch" should be the imperative when it comes to keeping heritage alive and not falling into the museumization trap. In the contributions and discussions on the topic of "cultural landscapes" its potential for research became clear, which will be exploited in further joint projects. In addition, it became clear that the sustainability debates gain a lot of contour when the Tallinn approaches to cultural sustainability are closely combined and discussed with the Greifswald approaches to sustainability research.

- Alexander Drost, Stefan Ewert, Antje Kempe