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Landscape Science: A Russian Geographical Tradition

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The Russian geographical tradition of landscape science (landshaftovedenie) is analyzed with particular reference to its initiator, Lev Semenovich Berg (1876–1950). The differences between prevailing Russian and Western concepts of landscape in geography are discussed, and their common origins in German geographical thought in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries are delineated. It is argued that the principal differences are accounted for by a number of factors, of which Russia's own distinctive tradition in environmental science deriving from the work of V. V. Dokuchaev (1846–1903), the activities of certain key individuals (such as Berg and C. O. Sauer), and the very different social and political circumstances in different parts of the world appear to be the most significant. At the same time it is noted that neither in Russia nor in the West have geographers succeeded in specifying an agreed and unproblematic understanding of landscape, or more broadly in promoting a common geographical conception of human-environment relationships. In light of such uncertainties, the latter part of the article argues for closer international links between the variant landscape traditions in geography as an important contribution to the quest for sustainability.

Keywords: Russia; geographies of scientific knowledge; history of geographical and environmental thought; landscape; sustainability; the Russian geographical school

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham, United Kingdom

Publication date: March 1, 2007


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