Futurities, on the temporal mediation of landscapes. 
Rivke Jaffe (University of Amsterdam)
Maarten Onneweer (Leiden University)
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Biol B37
Start time:
19 September, 2006 at 11:30 (UTC+0)
Session slots:

Short Abstract:

This panel will explore how landscapes are used or mediated to refer to other (distanced) places and times. In the mediations we address, temporalised images, signs, maps, advertisements, artefacts and places are seen as ways to come to terms with or strategically establish landscape futurities.

Long Abstract

Recent decades have witnessed a growing concern in anthropology with topics such as landscapes, media, time, space and material culture. This panel aims to engage in this debate from a specific angle, exploring how spaces or landscapes are constituted through mediation, and how, in these mediations, shifts in temporal registers are often used strategically, to grasp or establish particular kinds of futures. Landscapes are never self-evident, they must be conveyed to come into being. We are concerned with how landscapes are communicated, how certain objects or activities are employed and, particularly, how a future temporality is put to use in this process. Invoking a landscape often involves invoking a reference beyond its actual time. Anthropologists have addressed this issue in terms of memory, tradition or nostalgia. We hope to show in this panel that there is as much "forward looking" through the use and construction of landscape, as there is nostalgia. These exposures of the future in and through landscapes can be invoked in the present through different means, termed media in this context. These media can range from policy papers depicting solutions for green environmental problems in the future positive, to landscapes featuring in Indian wedding souvenirs promising future love, to signposts in Dutch nature reserves announcing what the visitor will be viewing in the future. One of the aspects we wish to explore is the role of the mediators through which these futurities in the landscape are conveyed. It is our hypothesis that to a certain extent, these media are the message, or at least shape a considerable part of it. We aim to show that landscape futurities can be studied by analysing the media through which they are evoked and communicated. This also shows that futurities are socially biased to include some and exclude others. The issue of futurity is simultaneously pertinent and fleeting. Futurities can be invoked in or through the landscape, but the particularities of this temporal scale are not easily grasped by ethnographic research. As yet, anthropologists have displayed limited concern for futurities. We hope that our focus on the media through which landscape futurities are established will open up this debate.

Accepted papers: