Call for Papers: MARE People and the Sea Conference Panel: Beyond Nature and Culture at the Wadden Sea

by Cormac Walsh & Martin Döring


Sunrise on Schiermonnikoog, Dutch Wadden Sea. (Photo C. Walsh)

Proposed Panel Title: Beyond Nature and Culture: Relational perspectives on the Wadden Sea landscape

 Panel Convenors: Dr. Cormac Walsh & Dr. Martin Döring (University of Hamburg)

The Wadden Sea constitutes a dynamic intertidal coastal landscape, reaching from Den Helder in the Netherlands, along the German North Sea coast to Blavands Huk in southwestern Denmark. This coastal landscape has been shaped over a period of a thousand years or more by dyke-building, land reclamation and drainage practices as well as periodic storm flood events producing a material and symbolically powerful boundary between the land and the sea. Today the intertidal landscape in front of the dykes is recognised as a unique, ecologically rich and diverse ecosystem of outstanding natural value with the status of a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Wadden Sea landscape nevertheless remains a contested landscape imbued with regionally specific cultural values and meanings which serve to challenge the conservationist myth of the Wadden Sea as pure and pristine nature. Against this background, this panel proposes to bring together relational perspectives which seek to transcend the nature-culture divide at the Wadden Sea and offer novel ways of thinking nature and culture together.

In particular we hope to examine and critically reflect on the following aspects:

  • The interrelationships between natural and cultural heritage at the Wadden Sea;
  • innovative approaches to transcending the ‘hard boundary’ of nature and culture in the Wadden Sea landscape;
  • cross-comparative perspectives on the cultural meanings of nature and landscape at the Dutch, German and Danish Wadden Sea coasts;
  • possible Wadden Sea futures drawing on its rich history of nature-culture interactions;
  • challenges of bringing together multiple ways of knowing the Wadden Sea landscape.

 Please submit a title and abstract (max 300 words) to cormac.walsh(at) and doering(at) by 20th December 2018.


Suggested readings / Key References:

    1. Döring, M. & Ratter, B. (2018). Coastal landscapes: The relevance of researching coastscapes for managing coastal change in North FrisiaArea 50, 169-176.
    2. Egberts, L. (2018). Moving Beyond the Hard Boundary: Overcoming the nature-culture divide in the Dutch Wadden Sea area, Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development.
    3. Egberts, L. & Schroor, M. (Eds) (2018). Waddenland Outstanding: History, Landscape and Cultural Heritage of the Wadden Sea Region, Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.
    4. Krauss, W., (2005). The natural and cultural landscape heritage of Northern Friesland. Int. J. Herit. Stud. 11, 39–52.
    5. Reise, K., 2014. A Natural History of the Wadden Sea: Riddled by Contingencies, Wilhelmshaven Common Wadden Sea Secretariat.
    6. Walsh, C. (2018). Metageographies of coastal management: negotiating spaces of nature and culture at the Wadden Sea. Area 50 (2), 177-185.
    7. Wöbse, A.-K., (2017). Space, Place, Land and Sea: The Ecological ‘Discovery’ of the Global Wadden Sea. In: de Bont, R., Lachmund, L. (Eds.), Spatialiszing the History of Ecology: Sites, Journeys, Mappings. Routledge, London/New York, pp. 204–222.


Dyke History and Dyke Research in Northern Germany: A Conference Report

by Cormac Walsh

On 19th October 2009, an interdisciplinary conference on dyke history and dyke research took place in Stade, a small town in the Elbe marshlands, to the northwest of Hamburg. The conference was organised by the landscape association of the former duchies of Bremen and Werden (Landschaftsverband der ehemaligen Herzogtümer Bremen und Verden e.V.). Over a period of eighteen years the landscape association had commissioned a detailed historical study of the dykes of the Elbe and Weser river landscapes which has been published between 2003 an 2008 in the eight volumes by historians Michael Erhardt and Norbert Fischer.

The front cover of the most recent book of the series “Geschichte der Deiche an Elbe und Weser” (Source: Landschaftsverband Stade). 

Continue reading “Dyke History and Dyke Research in Northern Germany: A Conference Report”

The landscape is a Rubik’s cube and climate change is a rip current – How local landscape narratives influence adaptation to coastal erosion in Cornwall (UK)

by Vera Köpsel

In the autumn of 2015, my interviewee John* and I were standing on a rise at the Atlantic coast of Cornwall (UK) and facing the stormy weather. Storms are common in Cornwall, yet the high frequency of extreme events has begun irritating the locals. John yelled over the crashing waves, “Do you see the steps over there? They used to lead down to the beach, but they were washed away by the waves. Now there are only fifty centimeters to the cliff edge. Not long and the access road will erode into the sea.”

Eroded beach access, Godrevy, Cornwall. (C) Vera Köpsel

Continue reading “The landscape is a Rubik’s cube and climate change is a rip current – How local landscape narratives influence adaptation to coastal erosion in Cornwall (UK)”