2015 October 12 / 13:00
Precarious Landscapes

Precarious Landscapes
Karin Raith

Some places on earth obviously don't offer comfortable milieus to live in: the pole regions, deserts, windswept high plateaus and mountains, swamps etc. Nevertheless mankind has developed a large variety of strategies to cope even with the most unpleasant environments. Especially challenging to human endurance and ingeniousness are regions endangered by probable but unpredictable disasters such as earthquakes or floods. Yet human activities sometimes pose an even greater threat than natural forces. Destruction from war and mismanagement, physical/environmental and psychological damages from economic transitions and social changes, scars from previous periods and cultures are deeply etched into particular landscapes. Hence, has there been any land of milk and honey anywhere? Isn’t every region a precarious landscape?

The course addresses strategies that have been used to make harsh environments inhabitable. Using examples of particular cases we will discuss the unstable equilibrium of seemingly balanced landscapes and we will deal with current developments that are on the verge of destroying prosperous regions.

Image: Karin Raith