WMW10
Listening landscapes, speaking memories

Convenors:
Safet HadziMuhamedovic (SOAS University of London)
Location:
University Place 3.204
Start time:
8 August, 2013 at 11:00
Session slots:
5

Short abstract:

What are the particular examples of listening and speaking landscapes and what do their memories convey? This panel invites ethnographic contributions to the research of landscapes as cultural processes important to the reflexive and shifting 'lives of memory'.

Long abstract:

Can landscapes listen? Can landscapes speak? What is their relationship with memory? Arguing for an 'Actor-Network Theory', Bruno Latour proposes that 'non-humans' may have an active role, and not be 'simply the hapless bearers of symbolic projection' (2005: 10). Are landscapes merely heuristic devices in processes of memory or their inextricable parts with certain levels of autonomy in human experience? Building primarily upon Cruikshank's (2005) explorations on Athapaskan and Tlinglit 'listening' glaciers, as well as the bulk of research in anthropological studies of space, place and landscape, this panel invites ethnographic contributions to understanding of non-human agency as it pertains to human lives. What are the particular examples of listening and speaking landscapes and what do their memories convey? While they manage to transmit and reassert values, the idea of 'unchanging landscapes' has been successfully dispelled, not least by anthropologists. We are now able to understand them as a 'cultural process' (Hirsch 1995: 23). Are 'landscaped' histories better suited to answer contemporary local and global challenges and what are the subtle methods needed to recognise such knowledge? Contributions on the roles of landscape and its ability to both accommodate new realities and preserve memory could engage with sacral geographies, post-war and war, urban, endangered, shared, lost and imagined landscapes, as well as a range of other ethnographically informed discussions.