International Conference in Bamberg, Germany
24-26 May 2007

Spiritual Mission , Health and Sacred Sites Worship in Kyrgyzstan

Dr. Gulnara Aitpaeva

Director of Aigine Cultural Research Centre from Kyrgyzstan

 

The paper is aimed to explore how the acceptance or non-acceptance of the spiritual mission influences the health of practitioners of traditional Kyrgyz culture and what is a role of sacred sites in this process.

There is an axiom in Kyrgyz culture that health of people selected for spiritual service is directly connected with accepting/rejecting the duties of their destination. Only in a case of timely recognized and then accepted spiritual mission poets-improvisators, manaschys-reciters of the ancient epic, shaiykhs-guardians of sacred sites, traditional healers and some other groups which are capable to communicate with invisible and the other (next) world can live full-fledged life being physically healthy and socially recognized.

Modern scientific paradigms have not been able to clarify the connections between spirituality and health. The idea of studying this essential part of traditional Kyrgyz culture is at best ignored or at worst is understood as a psychiatric disorder.

My hypothesis is there are different kinds of traditional knowledge beyond the connections of spiritual mission and health. Usually process of recognizing and developing a supernatural gift is based on sacred sites worshiping and performing sacred rituals.

 

 

 

Earth and Heaven: Interpreting Nature and its Depth

Forrest Clingerman

Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Religion Ohio Northern University,

Department of Philosophy and Religion

 

This paper argues two points related to a theological interpretation of nature.  First, I will argue that an adequate theological model of nature must start with an interpretation of nature's manifestation in and through individual places.  Rather than identifying “nature” as the domain of study, theology must focus its understanding of nature on the concept of “emplacement,” that is, the mediation of the concept of place, the experience of particular places, and the sense of our interpretation of “emplacement in place.”  Such a view of nature as “emplacement” joins together our interpretations of nature as aesthetic, ecological, resourceful, and communal.  Yet, this concept of emplacement does not offer a theological understanding of nature.  The second point I will argue is how we can identify a theological depth of emplacement.  Using the symbol of Heaven, the paradigmatic religious re-imaging of place, we can argue that every manifestation of place includes a depth that shows the sacred in individual places.  Heaven becomes situated in a complex relationship of sacred place with material places: we can meaningfully understand “Heaven” as both an impossibility and a necessity, especially in light of our need to interpret the places where we find meaning.  We can summarize this second point by saying that Heaven is properly understood as the depth and abyss (Tillich) of the experiences of place.  Heaven, therefore, symbolizes the sacred dimension of our interpretation of the places where we encounter nature. 

 

 

 

The whole household of God: The use the oikos metaphor in the built and non-built environment

Professor Ernst M Conradie

University of the Western Cape

 

In recent ecumenical discourse the notion of the “whole household of God” has been employed as a new theological root metaphor. The power of this metaphor lies in its ability to integrate especially three core ecumenical themes on the basis of the Greek word “oikos” (household) – which forms the etymological root of the quests for economic justice (the nomoi or regulations within the household), ecological sustain­ability (the logos or underlying principles of the household) and ecumenical fellowship ( oikoumene – participating as members of the whole household of God).

In this paper I will explore the relative adequacy of this theological metaphor within the built vis-à-vis the non-built environment and within a human vis-à-vis a non-human context. In ecumenical discourse it is often said that the household of God includes the bio-physical foundations of this household. The earth is the house which humans inhabit and where the household of God is located. It should be noted though that the metaphor is best understood in the context of human societies and the built environment (the house). The question which will be explored in this paper is therefore whether this metaphor can be legitimately extended to the non-human environment and the non-built environment. In what sense can the earth be said to provide a “house”? This question is important since an all-inclusive household (without a fence) may not offer a sense of being-at-home. In this paper I will explore this question with specific reference to the ground-breaking creation theology of Jürgen Moltmann.

 

Restoring or Restorying nature?

Glenn Deliège

Husserl archief: Centrum voor Fenomenologie - K.U.Leuven

 

There is a tendency in recent nature conservation practices and policy to become ever more informed by the conceptual framework of techno-science. This means that nature, that is to be protected, appears ever more as an object that can be manipulated and reproduced. Examples of this tendency can be found in recent “nature-compensation-schemes”, which hold that a natural area can be developed and therefore destroyed, if habitat of similar type is “restored” elsewhere. In such cases the value of nature is defined in purely scientific/cognitivistic terms, such as the abundance and density of populations, abiotic factors such as salt-content of the water and so forth.

I argue that in terms of environmental protection, the relation of man to the non-human environment should be understood in terms of “giving meaning” [ zingeving, sinngebung ]. By “giving meaning” I mean that nature should be seen as a meaningful place which offers a framework of significance which transcends the individual and which forms a larger context in which the individual can place its life. The object at which our desire for “giving meaning” is direct should be able to “hold sway” over oneself, thereby generating feelings of fascination, admiration and awe. It is these feelings that should properly motivate nature-protection-schemes. Such feelings, however, are hard to conceptualise within the framework of techno-science, where nature appears as an object that can be easily manipulated.

Consequently in my paper I investigate how nature in nature-protection-schemes can be interpreted as an object of our desire for having a meaningful life, which requires a critique and rejection of the purely scientific-objective or instrumental-technical approach, which informs much of current nature-conservation. Furthermore it entails searching for ways in which to engage participants in nature-protection-schemes more profoundly with the places we seek to protect.

 

 

Deep Ecology as Sceptical Phenomenology

Kingsley Goodwin

University College Dublin, Ireland

Arne Naess has attempted with Deep Ecology to provide an articulation of the motivations and sensitivities of an activist social movement that includes many diverse beliefs, values and cultural outlooks but at the same time, he provides a carefully crafted Philosophy of Nature. There has been a tension between this tendency towards pluralism and an assumption by many (including other deep ecologists) that there is a basic defining philosophical system underlying Deep ecology.

I will argue that Deep Ecology can be understood as a phenomenological system in that it is centrally an attempt to analyse the experience of nature after ‘bracketing' assumptions about what it is. Unlike Husserl, Naess works from a basically sceptical epistemology and so does not present his ‘ecosophy' as a science but neither can it be ruled out as purely subjective. Like Husserl, his approach can only be understood as a reflection on experience and the structure of how this experience happens as the only ground from which we can base any knowledge. What is central to Deep Ecology, then is a phenomenological approach to nature albeit tempered with a scepticism regarding the possibility of Knowledge. This also explains Deep Ecological interest in indigenous cultural worldviews and religious understandings about Nature.

 

Nature and Natural Life in the Mystical Poetry of Rumi

Dr. S. Nomanul Haq

Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations,

University of Pennsylvania

 

There is practically a universal consensus among scholars that Maulana Jalauddin Rumi (d. 1273) is the greatest mystical poet of our entire human community. UNESCO has declared 2007 as "The Year of Rumi." This profoundly inspired Sufi, whose sublime Persian verse has been translated since the early 19th century into European languages, has a lot to say about nature, natural life, and the cohesive cosmic relationship between various entities that make up the physical and spiritual world. Not only is every natural being linked to every other, So Rumi teaches, there is in fact no difference between the natural world and the divine world. So all of nature is sacred, linked in a system of complex dynamics--these dynamics are embodied in a harmony of motions and quiescences, of dances and pauses. And this linkage comes to pass through a force that fills the whole universe--a force he calls Love, a force having both transcendental and physical dimensions.

In my paper I shall examine the more than 26,000 verses in Rumi's famous Mathnavi and the more that 30,000 that make up his Diwan (poetic album) and articulate what I have observed above. I shall also be discussing the moral and ethical yield of the thoughts of Rumi and how this yield generates policy implications for governments and local societies.

 

 

Landscapes of ritual deposition - an archaeological study of context related to wetland sites in Central Norway

  Merete Moe Henriksen

Department of Archeology and Religious Studies, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim

 

In Northwest Europe ritual deposition of objects in watery locations has a long-term history that dates back to the Mesolithic. The numerous objects retrieved from bogs, lakes and rivers bear witness to the importance of these places as the focus of ritual activities in prehistoric times. Whereas some of the sites seem to have been used on one occasion only, others continued in use for several centuries. Most likely, the knowledge of how and where to perform the rituals was passed on from generation to generation by way of oral transmission. But how was a place chosen for deposition in the first place? Can we, by looking at evidence of past activity close to these sites, come to terms with the reasons behind the choice of locations and the activities that went on there? There is also the question whether certain locations were chosen because of their close proximity to prominent natural features. If so, was this done as a way of remembering the location or did rules exist as to where in the landscape the deposition of objects could take place? In this paper, these issues will be addressed by looking at a few chosen archaeological sites from wetlands in Central Norway dating from the late Neolithic to the Iron Age.

 

 

BUILDING WITH BUTTER

Dr. Annette Homann

Architect Dipl. Ing. MA. Ottawa

 

Joseph Beuys built his personal myth and iconography basically out of fat and felt. Though his objects and installations are not obviously beautiful, they have been referred to as a “Sanctum Sanctorum”. In correspondence with the understanding of many non-Western cultures to conceive art, religion and medicine as a single activity, Beuys work intends to heal and reconnect a current dead-zone in human development with the animal kingdom and a world where nature is in command. Gregory Ulmer has stressed Beuys intelligence as a teacher and termed his performances under “post-pedagogy” comparing his role in art to Derrida's role in philosophy.

Recalling Beuys as a most radical ecological thinker, his writing strategies, his attempts to open doors and facilitate passages, finally relates to concepts of space and architecture. One may be tempted to ask, how a library, a public bath or the passage into a city were de- or reconstructed and staged if the architect was inspired by the work of Joseph Beuys.

Taking a 4 th year design-studio for architecture students at Carleton School of Architecture in Ottawa as such (post-) pedagogical departure point, this is the question explored. With it comes inescapable the question of beauty, as architecture does not only de- but reconstruct our body image and with it our image of cosmos. Finally the question therefore reads:

How do we educate architects, opening doors into psychoanalysis, ecology and religion?

How important is the use of a specific fat, wit and aesthetic?

Would butter make it beautiful?

 

 

 

'Keeping the Sacred as Secret': Voices of people who worship at Nyldy ata complex of sacred sites in Talas district (Kyrgyzstan )

What are the “wrongs” and “rights” of presenting knowledge of pilgrims on maps of sacred sites?  

Zemfira Inogamova

Cultural Research Center Aigine in Bishkek ( Kyrgyzstan )

 

In this paper I would focus on the sacred sites and the experiences, hopes and fears that cultural practitioners have about these sacred sites in relation to changing economic and social organization. Specifically, will explore a q uestion of knowledge and control over knowledge of sacred sites. I will also dwell on issue of how people think about the sites and what kind of respect people show, and how they can maintain control over these sites. The issue of property rights on sacred sites is also one of the main concerns of local practitioners.

This article will present concerns of research respondents and will describe the uses of the sites in direct relationship to the kinds of rights that people feel they should have to the sites, along with any challenges or limits to those rights that people have experienced.

The practitioners have extensive knowledge including spatial about the sites and were put in the centre of the mapping project. The mapping work is one kind of knowledge that will discuss how practitioners feel about idea of mapping sacred sites and how do they think that knowledge should be used. Hence, discourse will be organized around people who are experts, and then talk about the mapping project as another kind of knowledge that research give them a chance to respond to. The mapping project becomes a tool for expanding the conversation with the local experts, rather than the goal of the project.

 

 

 

God, humanity and nature among women ordained within the Lutheran Church of Sweden : A pilot-study

Dr. Maria Jansdotter

Ass.Prof., Karlstad University

 

Five women, ordained as pastors within the Lutheran Church of Sweden are asked about their views of the relation between humanity, nature and God, their sources for inspiration in this field, and if and why they have experienced obstacles to express their perspectives in their professional practice. The result is analysed with the help of Heelas/Woodhead's three different approaches to humanity, nature and god, "spiritualities of life" "religions of difference" and "religions of humanity". All three categories can be found within this group of women, and it is obvious that the two women who most clearly expressed a holistic spirituality also were the two that had experienced hindrance for articulating their alternative views, because of expectances from the denomination pointing to a traditional direction, because of the death-oriented symbolic of the mass and because of traditional interpretations of Christology. A common source of inspiration is Genesis, while feminist theology is not mentioned.

 

 

Historical Natural Sacred Places in Landscape: an Estonian model

Marju Torp Kõivupuu

Center for Landscape and Culture, Estonian Institute of Humanities , Tallinn University

 

There are landscapes in Estonia, where cutting of a tree can produce more public indignation then demolishing a building. The number of different natural holy places or folklore related mythological-poetical natural objects is fairly high in Estonia.

The historical natural sacred places are the groves, single trees, water bodies, stones and the other natural objects used for sacrificies, worshipping, healing and for other religious activities. The Estonian sacred groves are unique in Europe because their use and traditions connected to them have researched our present day. Most of them reflect the passive memory about Estoninans history and culture, but there is enough natural cult-objects which are continuously and actively related with folklore and behaviour of certain groups (Earth Believers aso.)

My paper concentrates on two main points:

•  natural sacred places as reflecters of (neo-)pagan and christian folk-belief in modern Estonia;

•  natural sacred places as objects which are in need of protection in post-socialist Estonia, where landscape is beeing actively transformed into urban or artificial landscape.

 

 

 

The Domestic Order and the Feral Threat:

Paul Shepard on the Intellectual Heritage of the

Neolithic Landscape

Richard Kover

Ph.d. Candidate, K.U.Leuven

 

Drawing on the work of the environmental historian and thinker Paul Shepard, my presentation will deal with the fundamental intellectual revolution that accompanied the Neolithic revolution and the introduction of agriculture. For the transition from the largely wild non-human environment of hunter-gatherers to the domesticated habitat of the agriculturalist, I will argue, had a profound impact on humanity's intellectual landscape. As agriculture, by its very nature, implies an oppositional dichotomy between human and wild worlds. Unlike foraging, the very practical necessities of agriculture, demands the deliberate and purposeful spatial separation of wild and human domains and the continual preservation and defence of this boundary. The practice of agriculture implicitly requires that the wild diversity of natural ecosystems be removed and replaced by a human imposed order of domesticated crops and fields, which must be kept apart and protected from wild competitors. Moreover, this pragmatic need to keep cultivated space separate from the rest of wild nature, frequently results in a landscape, whereby one is confronted by the tangible and visually apparent juxtaposition between the well ordered and managed plots and fields, upon which human communities rely for their very existence and the disorderly and chaotic profusion of wild nature that threatens to overwhelm and undermine this order. Consequently, the practice and landscape of agriculture tends to instantiate the notion of a dichotomous cosmos ruled by the conflict between two antagonistic principles, that of a benevolent domesticated order and the malevolent wild chaos. Recruiting the insights of anthropology and comparative mythology, I will seek to demonstrate how this conflict informs and structures the agrarian world-view.

 

 

 

 

A Christian Defence of the Sacredness of Nature in a

Multicultural Europe – What could it mean?

Professor Tage Kurtén

Åbo Akademi University

 

My paper will focus on conceptual conditions for defending the Environment on religious (Christian) grounds in today's Europe .

One way of dealing with our multicultural situation, represented among today's moral philosophers, is through the concept of “overlapping consensus” (Rawls). The idea is that as long as the practical conclusions made by people representing different world views/religions are the same (for example the imperative: make it your duty to sort your garbage), it does not matter that the conclusions made do rest upon very different initial positions and deliberations. In a way this makes good sense. The conclusions are everything; the deliberations behind them are of minor importance.

I will challenge this picture by pointing to the very different meaning our concrete actions do have depending upon the whole way of life of the person acting. I will shortly present a view, where the importance of the context where you articulate your standpoint is stressed. Every individual lives and acts in certain contexts.

Much moral philosophers still today like to think that there is a rational narrative which unites all humans. When this idea of an all-embracing great narrative is broken only a number of smaller groups of people living in a similar way within each group remain.

What, then, could be the point of talking about the sacredness of Nature among non-religious people? Should we concentrate on that which we seemingly have together with most other people (the duty to sort our garbage)? This would reduce us as persons, and narrow our horizons. The alternative is a deliberate articulation of the religious point of view, shown in the concrete actions taken by us (sorting our garbage).

Refusing to make the search for an overlapping consensus our policy will hinder us from living in a false consciousness of being in agreement, when we perhaps are not.

 

 

 

Biodiversity and Christian Ethics – A Critical Analysis

Dr. Anders Melin

Assistant Professor in Ethics

Centre for Theology and Religious Studies, Lund University

 

Especially after the UN Conference in Rio 1992 the concept of biodiversity has become important within environmental politics, both at the international and national level. The goal to preserve biodiversity gives raise to important ethical questions. One of the most fundamental is whether biodiversity only has an instrumental value as a resource for current and future generations of humans or if it also has a value in itself. The prevalent viewpoint within contemporary academic theology is to assign an intrinsic value to nature. The aim of this paper is to critically analyse the arguments that have been put forward within Christian ethics for why biodiversity is valuable in itself.

 

 

The Greens at the Crossroads: a Feeling of Nature or the Ancient Lithuanian Religion Community?

Professor Vida Motiekaityte

Mykolas Romeris University , Vilnius

 

The aim of paper is to discuss interface between contemporary environmental movements and renascent ancient religion. First informal environmental movements in Lithuania were established about twenty years ago . They played a leading role restoring the independence. At the outset The Greens liaised with official club Ramuva for regional studies. At time of the soviet occupation an official task of club was collecting of ethnographic data. When independence was restored in the place of Ramuva the Community of the ancient Baltic religion was established. Academics evaluated this transformation rather than a profanation of any religion. Tendencies to turn to the Community of archaic religion were watched in the case of Aukuras club for nature and heritage protection. However, the Aukuras leaders developed more soft the state of mind which was named the feeling of Nature . Its essentiality is a feeling of nature´s beauty and power and a skill to hear the response inwardly. The feeling of nature enriches the unseen, it gets inspiration to create and people must tell others about this. Is the feeling of nature a way waking up people from unreason of pseudoprogress and giving thought to our common future?

Ecologic spirituality promoting by Aukuras could be relevant for public politics and sciences of sustainability and is compulsive subject for research.

 

 

A Moral Climate? The Ethics of Climate Change

Dr. Michael Northcott

Reader in Christian Ethics, University of Edinburgh

 

The scientific narrative of climate change has so far left the industrial nations largely unwilling to reduce their energy emissions. In this paper it will be suggested that the dispassionate scientific narrative is part of the reason for this weak response and that only a moral and spiritual narrative of the beneficence of climate for human and mammalian life, and of the effects of climate change on human and nonhuman beings in the South, will motivate real change.

 

 

Stone and Sacred Space in China and Japan

Implications for our Treatment of the Earth

Graham Parkes, University of Hawaii

 

In ancient China mountains, as manifestations of the vast telluric forces that thrust the earth thousands of meters into the heavens, are regarded as sacred. Microcosms of those majestic peaks in the form of rocks are considered to manifest those same energies at a similar intensity, especially when arranged in the context of ponds and vegetation in imperial gardens. In Chinese philosophy rocks are understood as “kernels of earth's essential energies” and as such form both the frame for, and focal points of, the classical scholar's garden. Since the human body is regarded as a dynamic configuration of the same energies, or qi , the garden is not only a place for intellectual reflection, social interaction, and aesthetic contemplation: simply to be in the presence of suitably “energetic” rocks will vitalize one's system and enhance one's experience.

When the Chinese art of garden-making spread to Japan, it found fertile ground in the indigenous religion, Shinto, according to which the world is pervaded by awe-inspiring forces known as kami . Large and powerfully shaped rocks, as conduits of high intensities of kami , were experienced as generating a kind of sacred space around them — an effect that could be enhanced by grouping them together in the right way. Influences from Daoist mythology, Confucian philosophy, and Buddhist philosophy contributed to the development of a unique style of rock garden known as karesansui (dry landscape). The premise of this style is that unworked stone, when appropriately contemplated, is not only a deep source of wisdom but also, as it were, a companion on the way to enlightenment.

Such an experience of and attitude of reverence for rock is accessible to anyone with the patience to look with an open mind. A worldview that regards stone as sacred obviously discourages any kind of abuse of the earth.

 

Objects as links between person and place

Anna Petersson

Department of Architecture and the Built Environment LTH, Lund University

 

In a recently conducted interview study, some survivors of traffic victims rate their home as the most important place for remembrance, compared to both the accident site and the burial plot. The reason for this evaluation appears to be the place’s ability to bring about a positive presence of the deceased. Supported by photographs and personal objects, the home serves as a constant reminder, and daily company, of the deceased’s life.

The placing of personal objects, by the accident site or burial plot, could in this context be seen as a way to link the deceased’s personal life to the ‘dead’ and impersonal site. Personalised memorial places could further be held to enable a graspable relation between
what the Swedish ethnologist Lynn Åkesson calls the symbolic and diabolic reality, where symbolic reality stands for feelings of unity and meaning of life whereas diabolic reality stands for feelings of disruption and disillusion.


By writing a paper I want to further explore these kinds of linkages and relations in studying a cultural event, encouraging people to contemplate a loved one by leaving gifts, reciting poems, or simply reminiscing, called ‘The altar of death’ placed in an urban park in Malmö in 2006.

 

 

Strategies for gender equality and sustainable development

in ecofeminist thought

Magdalena Raivio

PhD Student in Religious studies and Gender studies, Karlstad University, Sweden

 

Many spiritual feminists work with interrupting the idea of a sharp distinction between the spiritual and the material, the religious and the secular, as well as the one between woman and man and female and male. The feminists whose thoughts I previously work with in my ongoing dissertation are not in the first place spiritual feminists, but rather materialist, postcolonial ecofeminists with a holistic (combined spiritual and materialist) worldview. Kaarina Kailo, a Finnish scholar, argues for the importance of making an ideological shift from “the Master Imaginary” to a “Gift Imaginary” to promote an ecological and social sustainable society, not based on women and indigenous people as “the Other”. Kailo looks upon spirituality as an integral and internal part of nature and society and as a basic aspect of human life. Together with more commonly used feminist political strategies, Kailo suggests spirituality, indigenous rituals and myths as important sources for empowering women and non-hegemonic men, and for deconstructing the master narratives and patriarchal structures and practices of western society. After a brief outlining of Kailo's thoughts, I would like to discuss her view of religion, and her feminist theory of a Gift Imaginary, to help me sharpening my analysis.

 

 

 

The resacralization of a Cambodian village by means of euros and “Venerable Old Men”

Jostein Reiten

Cand.philol., Dept. of Religious Studies, University of Bergen

 

Cambodia was once a country where more than seventy percent of the land was covered with forest. Since the late eighties the situation has deteriorated rapidly and today the area covered by forest has been reduced to just over thirty percent. The effects have been severe droughts and floods, which have lead to erosion and failed crops, making poor farmers even poorer.

However, the general development practice of certain Buddhist NGOs and in particular their forest- and agricultural projects have contributed to a new environmental awareness among Cambodian villagers. This has happened through a process of resacralization of village space and its surroundings, and in recent years it has been given a new dimension by international donor money channelled through these Buddhist NGOs.

This paper will investigate the contributions from Cambodian ancestor spirits - the neak ta - to the environmental education-work done by some Buddhist NGOs and the effects this has had on the relative success of numerous community forest projects. Considering the strong position of the neak ta in Cambodian religious life, they have in fact become an important factor for several Buddhist NGOs when combined with other Buddhist narratives.

 

 

 

The Way forward? - Shinto and a 21 st Century Japanese Ecological Attitude

Daniel M. P. Shaw

 

Shinto can be sufficiently isolated from other Japanese ideological traditions in order to be considered separately from them. Upon investigation, one discovers beliefs, values, themes, an attitude and a worldview that are specific to Shinto spirituality and in many cases integrated into everyday Japanese life. Shinto worship of spirits which permeate the world is concurrent with a Japanese self-identification of being ‘at one' with nature and natural phenomena. These beliefs can be shown to lead smoothly to ecocentrism and potentially an holistic ecological attitude of ‘respect for nature'. Such an attitude would be bolstered by the Japanese importance of maintaining a ‘mindful heart'. That Shinto beliefs are already latent in Japanese society indicates that it would not be unreasonable to propose the possibility of the Japanese assuming such an attitude in practice. One can imagine implementation of various Shinto values and themes making an immediate eco-friendly impact on daily life. Certainly, Japan is in dire need of a change in treatment of the environment, as is evidenced by a gamut of environmental problems. I hope to convince the reader that the beliefs and values exhibited in Shinto spirituality could play a fundamental role in developing a Japanese ecological attitude.

(Shinto is translatable as ‘The Way of the Gods', although, ‘god' is only a very approximate translation of ‘kami' and ‘Way' not to be overemphasised. )

 

 

 

The Master of the Universe or the Humble Servant

– or how the concept of sustainable development is affecting our understanding of man and nature

Dr. Björn Vikström

Åbo Akademi University

 


The concept of sustainable development was formulated in the 1980's with the ambition to defend the possibility of a constructive co-operation between economic growth and environmental protection. But the concept “sustainable development” is ambiguous: it is used both in anthropocentric and ecocentric approaches. In political discourse sustainability is often used in its anthropocentric form, which indicates a technocratic approach to nature that downplays the sense of wonder, reverence and moral obligation associated with more holistic, ecocentric perspectives. The urgent need to find solutions to the problems mankind is facing today affects the way science and education are valued in society: the focus is to a very high degree put on applied science and on the ability of education to change the attitudes and the behaviour of current and future generations.

As a consequence the technical and instrumental dimensions of the relationship between man and nature are highlighted. This makes it extremely important today to confront this view of man with the religious traditions, where traditionally more emphasis is put on the sacredness and the inscrutability of nature. In the myths and the other constitutive narratives of the religious traditions man is considered on the one hand active and responsible, on the other hand a more or less passive victim of forces he cannot control. This unavoidable tension between responsible action and humble reverence can be seen as a potential corrective to the current tendencies to stress the manipulative role of man in relation to nature.

 

 

 

Ideal landscapes of memory and meaning in the urban environment

Carola Wingren

Professor and Landscape Architect LAR/MSA, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

 

The traces of modernistic planning, with its peak in the 1960s, has left a landscape where people's lives are separated in spaces for work, living, travelling, or dying. This separation in different public spaces tends to give a sentiment of loss of place and a need for private expressions. In this loss the quest for ideal landscapes, asked for by individuals as well as by society, is dealt with by planners and architects. But the command is vague. Is it a quest for beauty, spirituality or something else?

Through a cumulative method in collaborative planning and design with architects, politicians and artists during twenty years in the field of road planning, a base of key words and images has crystallized as important, often dealing with memory, meaning, and nature. These concepts will be tested and completed in a project called “Designing Places for Memory and Meaning in Contemporary Urban Landscapes”, in an interdisciplinary approach with theologians, ethnologists, designers, architects, and users of memorial sites, through different dialogue techniques, sketching procedures and visualisation. An expected outcome is to find out more about tools, artefacts, materials, and methods to use in the production of physical space able to materialise individual or public needs of an ideal landscape.

This paper will be a discussion about the road planning results and how they will be put into a new context, the memory places of tomorrow.