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The use of ‘cultural landscape’ in 19th century German geographical literature

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The short article makes a small selection of early German literature containing the term ‘cultural landscape’ accessible for an English-language readership with the aim of enabling a broader discussion of the term. After a brief overview of the usage of ‘cultural landscape’ in geographical research, four German authors and their publications are presented. Carl Ritter appears to have been the first to use Culturlandschaft, in 1832. He was followed by Carl Vogel in 1851, Joseph Wimmer in 1882 and 1885, and Friedrich Ratzel in 1893. Analysis of their use of ‘cultural landscape’ reveals different dimensions of the term: a developmental perspective on cultural landscapes, i.e. cultural landscapes developed from natural landscapes; an opposition of nature and culture; and an understanding of cultural landscape as agricultural or park landscape. The process of cultivation is described with words with a positive connotation. The comparison of these dimensions with recent geographical literature shows that long-standing ideas continue to influence present-day usage.

Keywords: Carl Ritter; Carl Vogel; Culturlandschaft/Kulturlandschaft; Friedrich Ratzel; Joseph Wimmer

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Geography, University of Bergen, NO-5020, Bergen, Norway

Publication date: February 1, 2013


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