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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2013


Olwig, Kenneth


“Thing” has undergone reification, and it has done so together with its linguistic “conjoined twin” – “landscape”. Whereasthingonce was the name for meetings where people assembled to treat commonthings that matter, things, in the modern sense, have become physical objects (things as matter). Likewise, landscape's meaning has been reified from being a polity constituted by commonthingmeetings treating substantivethings that matter, to becoming a spatial assemblage of physicalthings as matter. To fully grasp the contemporary meaning of both things and landscape it is necessary to understand the way in which those meanings are the intertwined outcome of a process of revolutionary inversion, or turning inside–out, by which the meaning of things has been spatialized, enclosed, individualized, privatized, scaled and reified as a constituent of the mental and social landscape of modernity. The potentiality of the concept of thing lies, it will be argued, in its continued containment of older, subaltern meanings that can work to empower an alternative “non-modern” understanding of things along the lines of, but distinct from, Bruno Latour's notion ofDingpolitik, which will be termed “thingpolitics” here. This argument is analysed in relation to Martin Heidegger's concept of the “thing”, and exemplified by the mandate of the European Landscape Convention, and the modern planning usage of Landscape Character Assessment and Ecosystem Services, as applied to England's Lake District.


Ecosystem Services; Lake District; landscape; Landscape Character Assessment; the European Landscape Convention; thing

Published in

Geografiska Annaler: Series B, Human Geography
2013, volume: 95, number: 3, pages: 251-273

Authors' information

Associated SLU-program

Agricultural landscape

UKÄ Subject classification

Human Geography
History of Ideas
Other Humanities not elsewhere specified
Other Agricultural Sciences not elsewhere specified
Cultural Studies

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