05 March 2014: Living Landscapes

Living landscapes: perspectives on communities and their environment

Traditional knowledge, local wisdom, values, and beliefs … are more than static forms of cultural identification.

Landscapes-1Landscapes are the silent, antediluvian results of changes wrought by the planet’s natural processes combined with human activities. Man shares a symbiotic relationship with his landscape – when changes are creative and positive, landscape and inhabitants thrive; when they are not, the opposite happens. In an abstract sense, landscapes are portals linking the present time to a significant past, affording glimpses to transformations that have occurred over eons and how these may help shape sustainable futures. Recognizing this important link between people and landscape is the Regional Project, a series of collaborative research initiatives by the Fellows of the Asian Public Intellectuals (API), funded by the Nippon Foundation Fellowships Programme. The outcome of the Project’s activities from 2008 to 2012 are documented in this book.

Landscapes-2Living Landscapes, Connected Communities documents the initiatives led by communities to conserve nature, preserve environmental health and improve the qualities of life, and how these initiatives provide an opportunity to deepen perspectives on people–environment links across contemporary Asian landscapes. Five sites were chosen for this study: Khiriwong in Thailand, Biwako in Japan, Kali Code Indonesia, Tasik Chini in Malaysia and Batanes in the Philippines.

Almost 50 contributors from across Asia with an intimate knowledge of the subject and representing various backgrounds feature in this book. Their stories – ranging from the performing arts and poetry to agriculture, superstitions and mythologies, from healing to human rights and risk management – reflect the eclectic yet inextricably linked diversity of the natural settings and cultures present within the East and Southeast Asia landscapes. Written in various styles, from analytical essays, personal reflections and poetry, and beautifully illustrated by powerful images, Living Landscapes, Connected Communities encourages us to broaden our understanding of people’s changing relationship with nature to encompass essential elements of spirituality, identity, belonging and wellbeing.

It is essential reading for anyone interested in the dynamic intersection of people, culture, the environment, and change in modern Asia. It is available now from Areca Books. Click here for more info.