S29
Landscape and symbolic power

Convenors:
Russell Ó Ríagáin (University of Cambridge)
Patrick Gleeson (University College Cork, Ireland)
Location:
Wills 3.31
Start time:
18 December, 2010 at 9:00
Session slots:
1

Short abstract:

This session investigates how symbolic systems, 'iconographies of landscape', become implicated and change through discourses of ideology, identity, space and place, and will critically consider how archaeological approaches to power relate to our ability to discuss the development of such systems.

Long abstract:

This session diachronically and synchronically examines the way in which common cultural, architectural and spatial motifs help construct and exercise power through experience of landscape. Principally, the session examines the symbolic meaning of iconographic repertoires enmeshed within the palimpsest of constructed, conceptual, textual or mythological landscapes, and the process of iconographic embodiment. These meanings and processes may have been at once fluid and tenacious, dynamic and static, something which this session will address. Landscape, as transformed from space to place by human action provides a symbolic system existing outside the individual, while also providing an anchorage for identity and facilitating habitus formation via socially encoded material messages. The symbolic system may be used as a resource by both belief systems and power relation configurations, and the reordering and/or reinterpreting of space and place are important features of changes in these. The formation of a holistic theoretical perspective is necessary in order to examine transitions between sets of material and symbolic technologies facilitating the exercise of power. This may allow for the co-existence of different landscapes and belief systems (for instance 'Pagan' and 'Christian' or 'colonial' and 'native'), and indeed symbolic iconographies or languages through which the world was understood, contested, manipulated and imagined. Therefore, in order to understand discourses played out through iconographic landscapes, comparative thematic papers are being sought considering themes such as the materiality of power, and the cognitive connotations of human interaction with both dynamic and static socially constructed landscapes.