Many Perceptions, One Landscape
This paper relates an attempt to develop an integrated understanding of landscape values in the Akaroa Basin, in the South Island of New Zealand, as part of the author's PhD research. This case study sought to understand the landscape through the eyes of people who had close associations with the place. The research sought to engage with the multiplicity of values present in the landscape, and to find a way of presenting these values that was not reliant on typologies or dualisms. A brief explanation of the use of the term 'value' in this context is necessary. Influenced by postmodernism, the idea of 'value' has changed from something that is intrinsic and universal to an understanding that values are a social construction created out of the cultural contexts of a time and place (Avrami, Mason et al, 2000). In the context of resource allocation choices, Thomas Brown (1984) usefully defines values as 'an enduring conception of the preferable which influences choice and action' (p 232). Such preferences involve both a valuer and an object of value: Greg Brown et al (2002) suggest that people hold certain 'values' but also express 'value' for certain objects. In this sense, an understanding of how a landscape is valued involves understanding both the nature of the valued 'object' (or aspect of landscape), and the nature of the expressed value/ s for that object. These values do not speak for themselves: they can only be identified when they are expressed by those who are part of the cultural context, or those who are in a position to observe and understand it. Accordingly, the research process sought to 'observe and understand' the range and nature of values, and the aspects of the landscape that were thus valued, through in-depth interviews of tangata whenua and residents of the Akaroa Basin. The case study took place in the later part of the overall research process, and aimed in part to test the usefulness of an integrating model,3 which had been developed by the author earlier in the research process. As the model's propositions provide the framework for the analysis that follows, I will outline some of the theoretical background to its conceptual features prior to moving on to describe the Akaroa case study and findings.
Publisher: Landscape Review
Rights Statement: Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
Keywords: Heritage landscape; cultural values model; integrated approach; embedded values
Research Type: Journal Article
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