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Vernacular Landscapes as Expressions of Environmental Ideas

  • By: Christine W. Mathenge
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

Vernacular landscapes, sometimes termed ordinary landscapes, are the surfaces of everyday life that we see all around us and that are created and re-created daily. Cultural geographers study vernacular landscapes to understand the lives of ordinary people who live in those landscapes. Ordinary landscapes take the form of everyday places such as parking lots, tree-shaded suburbs, trailer parks, or a patchwork of fields in Midwestern U.S. farmlands. They are lived in and are continuously changing.

Geographers agree that there are many layers of meanings embedded in any landscape and that multiple cultural landscapes exist in the same place. These vernacular landscapes can be studied to illuminate ideas about the human environment. However, the term landscape is somewhat ambiguous. Its meanings can be understood and even expressed ...

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