Landscape as Archive

Authors: Richard Schein*, University Of Kentucky
Topics: Historical Geography, Landscape, Cultural Geography
Keywords: landscape, archive, national experience, justice
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 5:00 PM / 6:40 PM
Room: Virginia B, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Theoretical developments in archival theory parallel those in cultural landscape study. Michelle Caswell, for instance, helps to make the connection by explicitly calling out “the land” as a record in opening up the archive of indigenous studies. Post-Derrida archivists let us see archives as collections that might have an ordering imperative, but which are constituted by “things” that do not necessarily have inherent meaning yet are bound through associative links in constellations of meanings. Thinking of landscape’s materiality as a constellation or assemblage of “things” without inherent meaning and bound by collective human experience suggests a relational landscape ontology that is at once ordered – in this case as collection of landscape elements that might be evidence in a national experience – which nevertheless can be contested and opened to scrutiny in a progressive way. This is more than simply bringing missing elements to a national archive through landscape, although that is important. It also entails finding other common grounds and may preclude a discussion of master narratives or the search for an absolute truth in favor of asking what is (ethically, morally, politically) right in a landscape. The goal is not a search for a landscape of justice but for justice through landscape.

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