Fourth International Symposium on Cultural and Historical Landscapes
International Symposium on Cultural and Historical Landscapes (INCULS), an annual event that was started in 2009 in response to the IFLA Cultural Landscape Committee’s (IFLA CLC) decision to highlight the importance of cultural and historical landscapes through teaching, research and consultancy in the Asia Pacific Region (APR). INCULS aimed at providing a platform for interdisciplinary discussions towards a common aim – providing a better and sustainable living environment for people and other living creatures sharing this planet through the lenses of cultural arid historical landscape. The 4th INCULS was held at Ahmedabad, India on 14th& 15th December 2013 with the theme of Cultural Landscapes – Transformations. 15 speakers from 6 countries presented papers on various sub-themes.
Landscapes are inherently dynamic and transform through the ages due to their surroundings and the environment, which many a times consists of flora and fauna. Cultural landscapes, within their inherent definition, include any sustained relationship between man and nature. As understanding of natural resources and their relationship to man has evolved, many fields of study of cultural landscapes have arisen. Study of Cultural Landscapes has established its roots in fields of geography, landscape, geology, hydrology, climatology, botany, archaeology, etc. While their expertise varies, they ultimately converge at the point of man-nature relationships. This symposium aspires to document living and established cultural landscapes and their evolution, so that this topic does not remain in the domain of research only, and transforms into a professional field of practice.
Cultural landscapes need not be ancient or historical, they can also be contemporary. Colonization and unprecedented migration from rural to urban areas in the Asia-Pacific Region has immensely transformed cultural landscapes. Examples of this include the impact of Trans-Siberian railway as well as cultural changes due to Indigo farming and Tea cultivation in India, or the historical sea route from Egypt and Mesopotamia to India.
Many such changes have resulted in a cultural turmoil, where traditional cultural knowledge shares space with new cultures being created as well as transformed traditional cultures
The inaugural session was opened with Prof. Prabhakar Bhagwat’s lecture on cultural evolution of landscape in India and its relationship to religion, documentation and historical texts. This was followed by inaugural address and paper by Dr. Atiah Ismail, chairperson of the IFLA-APR Cultural Landscapes Committee. Her paper demonstrated the cultural affiliations of societies and landscape, as studied in Malaysia. Ms. Uma Shankar presented a beautiful imagery and accompanying paper on interpretation of landscape in classical Indian literature. Ms Ayla Khan’s paper explained the intrinsic relationship between plants and culture, manifested in various cultural landscapes.
In the second session, Ms. KanokwaleeSuteethorn highlighted the importance of trees in urban areas, their socio-cultural and ecosystem values demonstrated through case studies from Thailand. Ms Archana Shah presented breathtaking photography of Kutch – a region of Gujarat, highlighting its natural landscape and traditional habitation as well as lifestyles, collected over two decades of her involvement in the region. Ms Yang Heeeun mapped the formation of a community culture in a newly developed creative district in Seoul, Korea. Ms. Miguel Gomez Villarino demonstrated his work on the mapping and landscape character assessment of the cultural landscapes of RiojoAlavesa, Basque Country, Spain.
In the third session, Prof. Amita Sinha presented her ongoing work on mapping and documenting cultural landscapes in India through case studies of Orchha and Amber. Ms. SmithaNavda presented a paper on mapping, analysing and conserving cultural landscapes with case study of Barkur in Karnataka. Mr. SandipPatil explored connections between institutional landscapes and cultural landscapes by mapping of history and development of universities and current trends.
In the fourth session, Ms. Divya Shah presented a case of mapping, analysis and conservation of cultural landscapes of Palakkad Gap in Kerala. Mr. Aniket Bhagwat presented his thoughts on the process of loss and its meanings in landscapes- and debated the nature of new meanings, and their relentless impotency in enriching our times. Prof. M K Dhavalikar gave an extensive visual insight into the archaeological history of Mumbai dating from stone age till recent day. Ms. ManjiriKhandekar talked about her experiences as editor of Heritage India – a magazine documenting Indian culture.
The conference culminated in a meeting of all paper presenters coming together under the aegis of INCULS in order to spread and share knowledge so documented. Dr. Atiah Ismail urged presenters from all nationalities to increase contribution from their respective nations. Prof. Bhagwat thanked everyone for their presence and contribution in making this event a grand success.