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Inscribing Culture on the Landscape


Haynes, R, Inscribing Culture on the Landscape, Proceedings of Imaging Nature: Media, Environment and Tourism, 27-29 June 2004, Cradle Mountain, pp. 1-18. (2005) [Refereed Conference Paper]


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Copyright 2005 the Author

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For the early settlers of Van Diemen’s Land the real horror of the landscape was its succession of absences. Not only were there so few people, but the settlers could find no history, no cultural context within which the land could be understood, no basis for interaction with it except in terms of hostility and brute conquest. The process of relating to the land imaginatively required the inscription of ‘stories’ to provide the place with unique cultural resonances. This paper considers five such attempts through literature, art and photography.

At first it was an ill-fitting, hand-me-down culture that was imposed on the land by means of comparisons, usually more ingenious than obvious, with the established cultural norms of Europe and Britain. In terms of art, the fashion for the Picturesque largely determined what settlers expected to see—and elicited their disappointment when they failed to find it.

In opposition to this imitative process was a fascination with difference for its own sake, and the way this threw old assumptions into question. This process began with examinations of the unique flora of Van Diemen’s Land, and spread gradually to the landforms.

Frontier stories offered the triumphalist celebration of cultural heroes and, in the process, vilified the land as the enemy that had to be overcome before the colonists could feel at home.

Tasmanian literature has been largely preoccupied with revisiting the past—a selective past that focuses on the treatment of the Palawa and the convict period and has perpetuated the malaise that haunted Tasmania. In these stories the land is co-villain, in league with an evil social structure to persecute the innocent and reinforce the communal infamy.

Finally, wilderness has been constructed as a unique and complete cultural tradition, providing an aesthetic, a morality, a religion, and a political ideology with new heroes and icons.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Conference Paper
Keywords:culture, landscape, travel, environment, tourism
Research Division:Language, Communication and Culture
Research Group:Other language, communication and culture
Research Field:Other language, communication and culture not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in language, communication and culture
UTAS Author:Haynes, R (Dr Roslynn Haynes)
ID Code:121753
Year Published:2005
Deposited By:Office of the School of Humanities
Deposited On:2017-10-13
Last Modified:2017-11-20
Downloads:39 View Download Statistics

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