Wild Landscapes : The Cultural Nature of Swedish National Parks

Abstract: Since their emergence in the late 19th century, national park spaces have been perceived as articulations of untouched nature or wild landscape beyond society. Yet no understanding of national parks can do without the recognition that they exist in historical spaces created, institutionalised and prepared for them by cultural practices and modes of representation. Rather than being given by nature, national parks are ensnared in the power-filled sites of absolute space, organic space and optical space. These socio-spatial issues are at the heart of Wild Landscapes. In addressing them, the focus of the book is on reconstituting the process of how the natures and landscapes of Swedish national parks have been socially reinvented. Social reinvention puts an emphasis on how the parks are communicated and authorised with the help of a multimedia dialectic of maps, images and texts, and various spatial strategies. Thus Wild Landscapes deals not primarily with natural science, but with a variety of subjects related to the cultural past and present of Swedish national parks, such as patriotism, tourism, scientism, practical management, planning, cartography, imagery, environmental ethics and land-use performance. It concludes that social reinvention opens a passage for a less reified and less dualistic understanding of the nature of Swedish national parks.

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