Europe’s energy transition is driven by political agendas that work out in different ways on a regional level.This drive has proved to have a great impact on our relationship with our living environment and its heritage values. How can heritage discourse and studies shed light to these challenges? And what role can heritage and landscape values play in global challenges?
Tinos: View of the Cardiani settlement in Tinos island. Locals and heritage experts warn against the planned installation of wind power infrastructure in this small-scale, layered landscape. Credit: Marilena Mela
Renewable energy is produced using renewable natural resources such as sunlight, wind, water resources (rivers, tides and waves), geothermal heat or biomass. Unlike fossil fuels, these sources are constantly being replenished and can, therefore, in theory never be depleted. In addition, its energy conversion process doesn’t produce carbon emissions which will help achieve European energy and climate objectives. Last but not least, generating clean energy will reduce Europe’s dependency on imported fossil fuels, helping to make energy more affordable. On the other hand, landscape and heritage values of these localities are influenced immensely by energy transition initiatives and in some cases local communities are struggling with the consequences.
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)uni-hamburg.de and doering(at)metaphorik.de by 20th December 2018.
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).
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
Coasts are gaining increased attention worldwide as sites of dramatic and disruptive environmental change. Coastal settlements and ecosystems are particularly vulnerable to climate change and sea level rise (Moser et al 2012). Exploitation of marine resources also contributes to coastal change, resulting in subsidence or loss of land at coastal locations, including at Louisiana and the Dutch Wadden Sea (Wernick 2014, Neslen 2017). Despite the evident interweaving of the natural and the social, the ecological, and the political at the coast, coastal geography has long been firmly positioned within the domain of physical geography with comparatively little input from human geographers. Indeed within the social sciences more generally, coastal and marine spaces have tended to be marginalised in favour of land-based narratives of societal development (e.g. Gillis 2012, Peters et al. 2018).
by Owain Jones
The Tidal Cultures blog was started as part of a UK – Dutch research project conducted from 2012-2015. This was the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) Arts and Humanities Research Council (UK) Humanities Research Networking and Exchange Scheme; “Between the Tides”: Comparative arts and humanities approaches to living with(in) intertidal landscapes in UK & the Netherlands. Learning from those who live and work with complexity, change and fragility’: Dr Owain Jones; Countryside and Community Institute; and Dr. Bettina van Hoven, Department of Cultural Geography, Faculty of Spatial Sciences, University of Groningen.