How does our own personal context give meaning to/alter the landscape?For example, how do the beliefs and values of aboriginals alter their view of the landscape?

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Lorraine Caplan | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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This is such an interesting question!  Let's talk about the aborigines and a few other examples of how personal context makes a difference.

Aboriginals, traditionally, are hunters and gatherers, and they have religious beliefs that are strongly rooted in the land and its natural features.  This means that the landscape has meaning to them that is not necessarily the same meaning that a person raised in a city, for example, would find.

If the land is what supports a group, through hunting animals and gathering plants, the people in that group perceive the entire landscape as a food source, which means that while others might see a beautiful meadow, the aborigine is likely to be seeing or looking for animals to slay or plants to eat.  People who buy their meat and vegetables at the supermarket do not usually look at a landscape  like this!

The aboriginal religious beliefs include a belief in beings who created the landscape, beings whose manifestation is in the landscape itself. This means that the entire landscape is "worshiped" as a representation of deities.  This makes "place" central in the beliefs of the aboriginal.

This might seem like a very different way of viewing things, but our preferences make all of us view things differently.  To give you a personal example, my father was an electrical contractor for over 50 years.  I am someone who loves to admire trees and flowers.  When my father looks at a street, what he sees is the wires between the trees, cables leading into houses, and the design of the street lights.  What I see is trees and flowers.  Each of us is viewing the landscape through a personal context.  Can you think of any examples of the way you and others view your landscape differently?

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