Landscape is a central subject of inquiry in multiple disciplines including geography, planning, architecture, ecology, archaeology, and visual arts, yet the discipline with arguably the most influence on landscape – law – is largely absent from landscape scholarship. Law conceptualizes land primarily as property, and the interpretation of property rights in land emphasizes abstract qualities of ownership and alienability. This is at odds with the lived-in understandings of land that predated property when land was originally characterized by a symbiotic relationship between people and place, or landscape (Olwig 1996).
Landscape has been disengaging from its overtly aesthetic associations in recent decades to reclaim some of its legal identity, in the sense of place-oriented rights and duties and themes of social justice and sustainability. The relationship between law and landscape is far-reaching, touching on human rights, environmental protection, cultural heritage law, property law, and spatial justice. Landscape norms now include not only protection measures, but also an acknowledgement of the rights of communities to participate in the decisions affecting their landscapes (Strecker 2018).
Our overarching goal is to build on this momentum by exploring, confronting, and expanding the link between landscape and law in the pursuit of spatial justice. The symposium will explore this relationship via abstract versus lived-in rights to landscape, the question of who has rights, and how we might recover elements of substantive landscape in law by reimagining and reconfiguring property. Landscape is increasingly being employed (including beyond Europe) as an umbrella term for collective action. How are contestations over landscape articulated in reference to legal norms, and what other forms of discourse are they situated in locally, nationally, or transnationally?
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