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The Finnish landscape and its meanings PETRI J. RAIVO Petri J. Raivo (2002). The Finnish landscape and its meanings. Fennia 180: 1–2, pp. 89–98. Helsinki. ISSN 0015-0010. The landscape has played – and continues to play – an important role in the process of constructing a national identity in Finland. In this process, certain areas and views, whether real or imaginary, are designated as vital symbols of the national culture. The landscape is not merely an image, a map or a view of the existing
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  The Finnish landscape and its meanings PETRI J. RAIVO Petri J. Raivo (2002). The Finnish landscape and its meanings. Fennia 180: 1–2, pp. 89–98. Helsinki. ISSN 0015-0010.The landscape has played – and continues to play – an important role in theprocess of constructing a national identity in Finland. In this process, certainareas and views, whether real or imaginary, are designated as vital symbols of the national culture. The landscape is not merely an image, a map or a viewof the existing motherland, however. It is also a part of the nation’s history,which is marked in the landscape in the form of significant buildings and mon-uments to historical events, so that the past may be seen as forming an unbro-ken continuum with the present. Work is constantly going on to maintain andrenew the national traditions of landscape description. This means that what-ever its age and nostalgic associations, the landscape is an integral part of ourpresent-day lives. The images, maps, and discourses associated with the land-scape may have altered in the course of time, and even the physical areas orviews may have been replaced with new ones, but the ideal of a Finnish land-scape has persisted. The signs and significations attached to it thus remain apowerful part of our national culture. Petri J. Raivo, Academy of Finland (project 4872), Department of Geography,FIN-90014 University of Oulu, Finland. E-mail:  Three faces of the same scene Landscape  is one of those words whose meaningis closely connected with the context in which itis used, whether we refer to the view that opensup from some vantage point, a historical milieu,an image, a geographical region, or an environ-ment perceived with the senses. It is commonlyused as a synonym for an environment character-ized by unspoiled nature, a rural area in the tra-ditional sense, surroundings that form significantelements in our cultural history, or simply an aes-thetically satisfying view. We can also speak of  national  , traditional  , or idealized  landscapes, inwhich case we allude to cultural meanings thatcreate notions of national or local identity. Theword incorporates at least three essential featuresor connotations, however: It may be understoodas referring to (1) a visual scene, (2) a geographi-cal region, or (3) a culturally determined way of viewing or analysing the environment. Theseproperties are not mutually exclusive; on the con-trary, the notion of landscape frequently subsumesall three. A landscape can thus have many faces,or, in other words, one landscape has numerousnew landscapes opening up within it. A scene The most characteristic feature attached to a land-scape is its visuality. Usually the first connotationthat comes to mind is that of the scene that opensup before us when we stand at a certain highpoint somewhere, or at least a pictorial represen-tation of that scene. The srcins of the term land-scape  in the history of art go back to Italy duringthe Renaissance. There, the word paesaggio  be-gan to take on the meaning of a painting whichhad a distant view projected as its background inaccordance with the geometrical principles of perspective (Cosgrove 1985: 52). From these be-ginnings, the word landschap  came to be used bysixteenth- and seventeenth-century Dutch artiststo refer to a rural scene with characteristic humanfigures, animals, buildings, and natural environ-ments. Eventually, it gained the more general  90FENNIA180:1–2(2002) Petri J. Raivo  meaning of “any general view depicted in a paint-ing.” Another reason for the emergence of land-scape as a visual concept lay in the developmentof cartography, for both these forms of descrip-tion – a perspective drawing or painting and amap drawn to scale and intended to represent thephysical environment as accurately as possible –came to be combined in the form of depicting andviewing landscapes known as the panoramic view  (Jackson 1964: 47–49).A landscape is nevertheless much more thansimply a view or a picture representing such aview. Looking, drawing, painting, or photograph-ing cannot in itself be sufficient, as there is some-thing more to a landscape. Whereas the humaneye can take in just under 180º of a panoramicview at any one time, the physical landscape ex-tends around one for the full 360º. Whereas amap, painting, or photograph has the form of atwo-dimensional surface, a landscape is at leasta three-dimensional construct (Mills 1997: 6). Theconfinement of a landscape to the sense of visionalone is thus apt to reduce its dimensions, for inreality we recall the landscape that we see, com-pare it with others, taste it, smell it, and so on, just as we can imagine a landscape that we havenever physically seen on the basis of what wehave read or heard about it (Karjalainen 1987: 9).Thus, alongside actual visual landscapes, we canalso speak of landscapes of sound, of smell, of the mind, and of the memories or expectationsthat we associate with them (Porteous 1996). Theexperiences that we have of landscapes form atwo-way process that engages the full range of thesenses and involves not only the physically per-ceived landscape, but also all the pictures, imag-es, texts, and narrations that are connected withit (Daniels & Cosgrove 1989; Duncan 1990). A region Apart from a multidimensional view perceivablewith a broad range of the senses, a landscape mayalso be understood as denoting an area or region.There are differences between languages in thisrespect, however. The English word landscape  andthe Finnish maisema both refer primarily to thevisual environment, but the German Landschaft  and the Swedish landskap  have a double mean-ing that also incorporates that of a certain regionor province (Granö 1998: 15).Geographers have always studied landscapesalongside places and regions, ever since the in-troduction of the German concept of  landscape geography  ( Landschaftskunde  ). Here, landscapereferred to an internally consistent area whichcould be delimited on a map and distinguishedfrom the surrounding areas in terms of certaincharacteristics (Holt-Jensen 1988: 37). Such de-scriptions were backed up by a precise, standard-ized system for classifying the features of land-scapes, based on exactly defined terms for iden-tifying the forms coinciding within a given area(see, e.g., Passarge 1929).The notions of landscape contained in land-scape geography and the associated researchmethods influenced many national traditions of geographical study, including that of Finland. Theoutstanding figure in Finnish landscape geogra-phy was, without doubt, Johannes Gabriel Granö(1882–1956). He developed the necessary termi-nology and methodology and spoke of a per-ceived environment as a spatial entity that couldbe divided into two parts: the proximity  , extend-ing away from the observer for some 200 metresand perceivable with all the senses, and the land-scape  , extending as far as the horizon (Granö1930: 14–22). It was the sense of sight that pri-marily defined the form and limits of the land-scape, but Granö was also interested in other as-pects of the perceived environment. The land-scapes of sound, smells, and colours, and the var-iations in these with the time of day and seasonof the year thus played an important part in hisresearch alongside the visual landscape.One essential aspect of Granö’s method of landscape geography was the description of formsthat serve as the visual manifestations of land-scapes and regional analyses constructed on thebasis of these. The landscape entities, whichGranö referred to as “districts,” “provinces,” and“regions,” were based on cartographic analysesof established sets of forms and the coincidenceof their boundaries. The principal sets of formsrecognized in his system were (1) landforms, (2)water forms, (3) vegetation forms, and (4) formsof artificial matter, each with subdivisions (Granö1929a, 1930). These constructs enabled the spa-tial form and content of a landscape to be definedby means of a specific formula. Granö’s mainwork of landscape geography was his Reine Geo-graphie  , first published in German in 1929 andsubsequently in Finnish, as Puhdas maantiede  , inthe following year. An English translation waspublished in 1997 under the title Pure Geogra-phy  . Some of the specialized terminology that he  FENNIA180: 1–2(2002)91 The Finnish landscape and its meanings  created for this purpose is still in use, and hecoined many established names for landscape re-gions in Finland, such as the Lake Region. In fact,the landscape-based system of regions srcinallyproposed for Finland by Granö in the 1925 edi-tion of the Atlas of Finland  is still current today(Granö 1929b). In the most recent map, adaptedto the revised post-war boundaries, Finland is di-vided into five major landscape regions, thirteenlandscape provinces, and fifty landscape districts(Fig. 1) (Raivo 1999a: 105). A cultural way of seeing No matter whether we consider views or discours-es, images, or areas of physically homogeneousfeatures, one aspect that is common to all theselandscape types is that they exist only as culturalenvironments that are dependent on human con-cepts, experiences, and appreciations. In connec-tion with the cultural perspective, mention is fre-quently made of  interpretative landscape research. It may be defined as a way of seeing and inter-preting cultural environments in which the repro-duction of meanings, values, and social order ismediated   (Cosgrove 1985; Daniels & Cosgrove1989). In other words, it is the human culturalpresence that makes sense of the semantic mean-ings attached to a landscape. This cultural dimen-sion associated with landscape is partly subjec-tive, bound to the life-history of the individual,but, at the same time, intersubjective, in that so-cial and cultural background influences that arecommon to particular groups and communitiesgovern the view taken (Raivo 1997: 327).The interpretative approach also emphasizes theontologically complex nature of a landscape. Itcan be simultaneously both a concrete physicalentity, such as a region or scene, and a painting,a poem, a literary description, or some otherculturally generated discourse that can be readand interpreted over and over again (Daniels &Cosgrove 1989: 1). The cultural meanings at-tached to a landscape do not spring up out of nothing, but are constantly being produced andreproduced. Just the word “landscape” is alwayscharged with innumerable preconceived expec-tations and significations. In this sense, there isno such thing as a value-independent, neutral,objective landscape. Constructing an imagined landscapefor Finland Searching the ideal scene The values and significations attached to a land-scape are cultural conventions regarding whatpeople can or would like to see in it. A landscapeis always someone’s landscape, with its own cre-ators and observers engaged in producing and re-producing the processes by which meaning is as-signed to it. Landscapes have had, and continueto have, an important part to play in the processof building national identities. For instance, cer-tain landscapes of particular significance for anation’s history and traditions may be marked outas codes that belong intimately to the culture inquestion (see, e.g., Lowenthal 1994).One notion inherent in nationalism is that of one nation with common cultural features: a com-mon language, system of values, history, and ge-ographical location. A shared geographical di-mension is thus an important element in the senseof community that unites a nation (Hooson 1994:6). A nation must be located somewhere; it mustbe associated with a clearly delimited area thatits members inhabit, just as an independent statehas a territory of its own. But alongside this, a na-tionalistic cultural identity will also incorporatea powerful imaginary geographical aspect inwhich the nation’s history and cultural traditionsare seen as anchored in certain places and land-scapes – real or imaginary (Daniels 1993).The Finnish landscape as we understand it to-day is largely a product of the Grand Duchy erain the nineteenth century which has been perpet-uated and filled out throughout the period of in-dependence (Klinge 1980). The descriptions onwhich it is based are to be found in the poetry of  Johan Ludvig Runeberg and the books of Zacha-rias Topelius. In his collection of poems entitled Fänrik Ståls sägner  ( Tales of Ensign Stål  ) (1848 and1860; see Runeberg 1874), Runeberg outlined thenature of Finnish patriotism and the landscape towhich this applied. Topelius’ two picture books, Finland framstäld i teckningar  ( Finland in pictures  )(1845–1852) and En resa i Finland  ( A journey through Finland  ) (1873), and his Boken om vårt land  ( A book about our country  ) (1875), intend-ed srcinally as a reader in history and geogra-phy for schools, had a major influence on the riseof a national landscape ideal (Tiitta 1982, 1994:280–313). The last-mentioned work, in particular,  92 FENNIA 180: 1–2 (2002) Petri J. Raivo 
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