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Protection Policies through a Lens: The Role of Representations in the Environmental Protection of Japanese Agrarian Landscapes
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science, Technology and Environment. University of Tartu. (Environmental Humanities Laboratory)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5709-0217
2014 (English)In: Framing Nature: Signs, Stories and Ecologies of Meaning. Abstracts, Tartu: University of Tartu, 2014, 122-123 p.Conference paper, Abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Environmental discourse and natural imagery hold a special place in national self-descriptions, and different visual and verbal representations of nature, that is nature through a lens or a pen, play a crucial part in establishing which elements belong to the “desirable national environment” and what parts of landscape are rather negated or ignored. Without underestimating the emotional bonds of each individual with their home landscapes, the present paper will address the role of visual (both photo and cinematographic) and verbal representations of landscapes in shaping public discourse on nature and environmental protection policies.

The discussion will focus on the representation of traditional rice agriculture landscapes at Lake Biwa, Japan, and their role in shaping local environmental consciousness and protection policies. Framing nature in beauty images has been crucial in Japanese environmental protection already from the establishment of early national parks that was carried out hand in hand with big publicity campaigns of major train companies. Well framed visual representations that cut off today’s industrial or urban everyday landscapes are central to the discourse on national landscapes in today’s Shiga Prefecture, where photographic and cinematographic works of Imamori Mitsuhiko have highlighted near-dissappeared traditional rice agriculture ecosystems. In a skillful montage, beautiful traditional villages are depicted as embodiments of traditional Japanese wisdom about co-existance with nature and have found ardent fans among middle-aged town people who happily immerse themselves in further “framing activities”: nature walks, food tasting, ecotourism etc. “The biggest challenge was to keep garbage out of the shot,” says the framer, Imamori Mitsuhiko himself about shooting “Satoyama”, the NHK and BBC co-produced film on water cycles in traditional rice farming villages at lake Shiga. For the consumer of framed images and experiences, it is the correspondence between the first-hand experience and neat images that matters most, appears from the interviews with participants at various tourist events in traditional agricultural villages. And even though the contact of these participants with the real Shiga prefecture remains largely on the level of framed nature, thus excluding the majority of the prefecture’s present reality, the conscious popularization activity of Imamori Mitsuhiko and subsequent satoyama boom has considerably increased the popular awareness about landscape heritage both on local and national level and has in fact helped to preserve several landscape elements that had already almost dissappeared.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Tartu: University of Tartu, 2014. 122-123 p.
Keyword [en]
visual representation, traditional ecosystems, heritage policy, Japan, landscape, nationalism
National Category
Visual Arts Other Humanities not elsewhere specified Human Geography
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-145426ISBN: 978-9949-32-570-2OAI: diva2:718290
Framing Nature: Signs, Stories and Ecologies of Meaning, the biennal conference of the European Association for the Study of Literature, Culture, and the Environment, and the IX conference of the Nordic Network for Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies. April 29-May 3, 2014, Tartu, Estonia

QC 20141218

Available from: 2014-05-20 Created: 2014-05-20 Last updated: 2014-12-18Bibliographically approved

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Lindström, Kati
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