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Landscapes in transition, memory in the making. Post-industrial landscapes as action arenas

Since the Paris Agreement in 2015, 197 countries agreed on a new, significantly more climate-conscious energy policy. Although its implementation is fiercely contested and much debated, carbon-based economies in many countries face enormous challenges. Regions whose prosperity has long been founded in large parts on mining and other highly polluting industries will have to cope with huge socio-economic transitions in the coming years. With the economic transformation of these landscapes, their social, cultural, ecological, and political re-appropriation is steadily gaining in importance. The affected regions are landscapes in full transition, seeking not only a new exterior, but also a new self-understanding. Here, the landscape becomes a semiophore and cipher of individual and collective self-images (Laclau and Mouffe 2015 [1985]).

In multicultural societies, these dynamics of negotiation are particularly critical. People belonging to national and cultural minorities compete with the dominant society in asymmetrical power relations not only for material but also for immaterial resources. Self-determined participation in the renegotiation of regional identity becomes an important aspect of cultural security (Carbonneau/Jacobs/Keller 2021). In this way, post-industrial landscapes form action arenas for the negotiation of regional identities and social power, within which practices of remembrance and inheritance gain in importance due to the growing loss of significance of traditional industries (Berger 2020, Jaramillo and Tomann 2021).

At the same time, understandings of landscape are always embedded in historically evolved discourses, within which multiple pre-industrial, industrial and post-industrial understandings and appropriations of landscape are interwoven and interrelated. This raises the fundamental question, to which extent these landscapes are really “new”. How are the past and the present interconnected? Do mythicizations of the past influence how the landscape is used/accessed today?

The organizers follow an interdisciplinary approach to connect both historical as well as current developments and perspectives. We are also interested in the potentials for regional development: Can research contribute to diversifying touristic, political and/or economic concepts, for example by raising awareness for the significance of minorized groups? How did the pandemic change people’s perception of local areas, for example by strengthening domestic travelling?


We invite interested participants from (but not exclusively) the field of cultural studies, public history, human geography, leisure studies, memory studies or heritage studies to join an interdisciplinary discussion. We strongly encourage contributions from and/or about little considered and/or historically under-represented minorities. Papers may deal with the following and/or related topics:

  • landscapes as places of memory and/or heritage and their function as crystallisation points of regionality/regionalisms
  • narrated landscapes in legends, fairy tales, popular culture
  • lost landscapes (e.g. in industrial contexts such as mining) and uncertainty
  • genesis and negotiation of regionality/regionalisms in the context of hiking and historical associations of the 18th/19th century
  • landscapes and borders (in the sense of national, ethnically and socially understood borders
  • landscapes and physical culture: hiking/climbing as an act of social localisation and representation in history and the present
  • landscapes and power (who interprets, names, trespasses the landscape)
  • landscapes and ‘access’
  • post-industrial landscapes as places of longing: tourist appropriations; industrial re-use and recreation of landscapes
  • landscapes as places of longing: dichotomies between culture and nature; re-wilding
  • How did/do industrial uses shape the landscape?
  • How does industrial use change the perception of the landscape as an ecosystem?
  • Post-industrial landscapes as recreated landscapes

Submission of contributions

The organisers plan to publish a joint volume with contributions from interested colleagues, either as a book or as a comprehensive journal. If you are interested in participating, please e-mail us an abstract of your planned paper (max. 3 pages) together with a short CV and information about your institutional affiliation by 31 March 2024 at the latest as PDF file to:

The organisers will decide on the selection of the papers in spring 2024. A joint workshop of all participating authors is planned for early 2025, at which the available manuscripts and the place of publication will be discussed. The organisers are open to suggestions for suitable publication venues. If you have any further questions, do not hesitate to contact us.

Projektbeteiligte: Jenny Hagemann, Susanne Hose, Friedrich Pollack , Sam Edwards (Loughborough University)