Conversation with Yi-Fu Tuan and Ken Olwig

A conversation between Yi-Fu Tuan and Kenneth Olwig, chaired by Tim Waterman on the dilemma:

The word ‘landscape’ can denote two different ways of thinking about people’s place in the world. On the one hand, it places human beings at the centre of things, where virtue is to be found in crafting ‘scapes’ or ‘scenes’. On the other, it suggests that we are just one part of complex ecological ecosystems, part of the ‘land’, where virtue is to be found acting humbly as a member of that community.

Which of these virtues will it be in the 21st century? The goodness of vaunting creativity or the goodness of letting be?

Yi-Fu Tuan is a key figure in human geography and arguably the most important originator of humanistic geography. He is professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and in 2012 was awarded the Vautrin-Lud International Geography Prize at the International Festival of Geography. The Vautrin-Lud International Geography Prize, considered the Nobel Prize for geography, is the highest honor in the field of geography. His work and approach continues to have great impact today, for example on topophilia, the feeling-link between person and place. 

Kenneth Olwig is a professor of landscape architecture at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Alnarp, Sweden. He received his doctorate from the Department of Geography of the University of Minnesota, where his advisor was Yi-Fu Tuan. A combination of aesthetic, legal, literary and cultural geographical approaches characterise his approach to landscape and the relationship between society and nature. His interests range from the effect of cultural perceptions of nature and landscape in regional development, to the role of ideas of law and justice in shaping the political landscape and its physical manifestations.



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