‘Natural’ Landscapes in the Representation of National Identity

Authored by: R. Olwig Kenneth

The Ashgate Research Companion to Heritage and Identity

Print publication date:  April  2008
Online publication date:  March  2016

Print ISBN: 9780754649229
eBook ISBN: 9781315613031
Adobe ISBN: 9781317043249


 Download Chapter



‘Natural’ landscapes are central themes in representations of national identity. Their power lies in the idea that nature, commonly understood as the opposite of culture, can nevertheless provide a source of human identity. National identity can thereby be seen to be a heritage of nature, rather than culture, and this, in turn, lends legitimacy to national identity by suggesting that it is natural, rather than artificial or unnatural. Because modern nation-states are largely made up of an amalgam of ethnicities and cultures living within a large territorial entity, they constitute an ‘imagined community’ (Anderson, 1991) in which it is not bonds of family, ethnicity or spatial propinquity that tie people together, but the notion of a shared national identity rooted in abstractions such as ‘nature’. If, however, people can be convinced that the fact of having lived one’s life within the borders of a given nation-state means that one’s identity has been shaped by the nature within those bounds, it is possible to create a unified national identity as part of an imagined national community that, simultaneously, can be opposed to the identities of other nations.

Search for more...
Back to top

Use of cookies on this website

We are using cookies to provide statistics that help us give you the best experience of our site. You can find out more in our Privacy Policy. By continuing to use the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.