Looking beyond the fence: The production of military landscapes

Thomas Theis Nielsen, Stig Roar Sveningsen

Publikation: KonferencebidragKonferenceabstrakt til konferenceForskningpeer review


Military landscapes are much more than the physical space where the military occupies itself and where it holds land deeds; barracks, training grounds, depots etc. We will argue that military landscapes and spaces transcends ideas of bounded, Euclidian spaces and should be conceptualized rather as a complex system of social interactions constantly changing as the result of the spatial practices of the military and of civil society. Hence, military landscapes are not just a constant physical space and cannot only be measured and understood solely in terms of physical structures; hectares of training grounds or
prices of office buildings alone. While physical structures such as depot building, barracks etc. all display a very constant presence, the actual use of these structures may vary considerably, even within a relatively limited timespan. Other structures and their use are more stable and constant for longer
periods. Military landscapes, we argue, should be conceptualized, inspired by the ideas of Henri Lefebvre and other key thinkers in geography. Hence, military landscapes and spaces are constantly produced as the result of interaction between the spatial practice of the military, the physical space and installations
found herein and finally the representations of military spaces, for instance maps, images, statues etc.
In this paper, we will conceptualize the military landscape of Denmark in the past 150 years. We will focus on the ephemeral practices and presence of the military as well as the long lasting military influence on the cartographic practice of Danish topographical mapping and the construction of memorial sites in order to establish a more comprehensive understanding of military landscapes and spaces in Denmark.
Publikationsdato18 feb. 2018
StatusUdgivet - 18 feb. 2018
BegivenhedMilitary and Postmilitary Landscapes: Central European Conference of Historical Geographers - Charles University, Prague, Tjekkiet
Varighed: 14 feb. 201815 feb. 2018


KonferenceMilitary and Postmilitary Landscapes
LokationCharles University
AndetIn 2018, we will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War and three hundred and seventy years since the end of the Thirty Years’ War. All conflicts have causes, course, and consequences. Conflicts may be relatively short, although they are often the result of long-term political, social, cultural, ideological or even environmental transformations.<br/><br/>Tensions stemming from political ambitions of individuals or whole states originated primarily in territories where power and influence concentrated. However, their outreach was often unimaginable. Even regions distant from troubled places had to cope with the consequences of local turmoil that threatened to or eventually resulted in conflicts. Conflicts impacted societies as well as environments where they took place. Through conflicts whole landscapes were erased, the organisation of states and of the world system transformed. Therefore, they provide suitable reference points allowing discrimination between different stages in the development of society (for example, they conclude phases of preparation, and shed light on the strategies and technological advancement of the time). Moreover, also the preparations for potential conflicts (that did not have to escalate into actual conflicts) have had impact on the landscape.<br/><br/>In the broad sense of the term, it is thus possible to think about military landscapes which are characterised by the occurrence of military-strategic features, remnants of troop activity (fortification systems, training areas, military-industrial complexes, etc.) and related activities (changes to the settlement and transport systems, different branches of the economy, etc.), or are filled with symbolic places (e.g. various monuments, cemeteries) pointing at the presence of military activities in the past.<br/><br/>Conflicts often entail certain trauma and disruption in continuous development of communities at different geographical scales. However, they may also give new impetus to future lives. Due to changing societal contexts, the view, understanding and interpretations of particular military landscapes change through generations. Different communities may express disparate attitudes towards the war heritage and its preservation. Military landscapes change their functions and meanings, and postmilitary landscapes have often become problematic areas, e.g. from the point of view of future use and territorial development. Sometimes they function as a place of memory, elsewhere they are subject to commodification.<br/><br/>We have the honor of inviting you to join us at the conference in Prague this February.<br/><br/> Eva Semotanová, Pavel Chromý, Zdeněk Kučera<br/>Conference Themes<br/><br/>The conference topics will be focused on, but not limited to:<br/><br/> the conceptualization of the military and postmilitary landscape<br/> remnants of military and postmilitary activities in the environment<br/> traces of military landscapes in cartographic, iconographic and written sources<br/> the processes of militarization and demilitarization and the possible ways of reconstructing their imprint on the landscape<br/> disappeared (post)military landscapes of cities and rural areas, centres and peripheries<br/> interwar period: conflict / war as a historical-geographic point of reference<br/> conflict as an impulse for socio-spatial change: pre-war and post-war landscape<br/> changes in the functions of military landscapes and the potential for their future use<br/> environmental context and consequences of the existence of military landscapes<br/> memories and heritage of military landscapes<br/> (post)military landscapes of the victors and the vanquished – the symbolic significance of military landscapes<br/>

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