Conference «SOULSCAPES: In search of genius loci»


Soulscapes: In search of genius loci intends to provoke a scientific reflection on how landscape reveals the way people relate to their physical and spiritual environment (Bockemuehl, 1992, 13). Intrigued by the assumption that “every place should have a spirit” (Day, 1990, 107), we invite interested researchers and students to enter into dialogue about the homogenising of the landscape due to which gradually the genii loci are lost (Antrop, 2000, 32).

NOVA FCSH | Auditorium 2, Tower B, 3rd Floor | 18th June 2018 

The Genius Loci is at the centre of landscape research, be it from the perspective of natural or social sciences, the humanities or design disciplines. Genius loci has been defined as the spirit of the place characterising a particular landscape (Pedroli, 2000, 15). Although modern society seems to have lost the ability to observe the landscape as a whole, and be aware of a sense of belonging and identity (Senge et al., 2004), in many places of Europe “people continued to worship the natural characteristics of the landscape as a source of truth, beauty and justice” (Pinto Correia et al., 2018, 6).

The landscape is tangible out there and simultaneously a mental reality (Antrop & Van Eetvelde, 2017, 392). Since the soul of a place might be characterised as “the intangible feeling – made up
of so many things” (Day,1990), we welcome an exchange of thoughts about these ‘things’. This includes the sacrality of landscapes (Verschuuren & Furuta, 2016; Day, 2012, Julian Holloway, 2003), which are animated by a health-giving spirit, as discussed by Day (1990), but also the healing and therapeutic landscapes presented by Relf (2006) or Van Elsen et al. (2014).

The participants are also invited to bring new thoughts and approaches to issues related with cultural landscape services, a topic of relevant research currently in Landscape Ecology.

The conference is structured in four panels, aiming at contemplating the theme from four angles:

1) Observing Landscape – towards a holistic Landscape Ecology Education

2) Healing and therapeutic landscapes – opportunities for new multifunctionality

3) Landscapes as places of harmony – how to safeguard landscape quality

4) Expressing the essence of landscape in Art (Atelier for painting, music, prose, poetry...)

See flyer.