In various debates concerning the multiple crises that have marked the first quarter of the 21st century, the notion of landscape has become a pivotal term: from the rhetoric of global organisations to social media imagery, and from the Venice Biennale to tourism advertising campaigns, 'landscape' travels across different spheres of culture, interconnecting notions of beauty and survival, heritage and leisure, natural resources and identities. Whether in strategies for efficiency and ‘resilience’ in the face of total environmental catastrophe, or in approaches that challenge human-centric worldviews, the notion of the landscape is there, making it increasingly imperative to critically examine this growing topicality and ubiquity. What lies 'under' the landscape?
The Symposium Under the Landscape took place in the islands of Santorini and Therasia from 26th June to 29th June 2022. The Symposium was the third instalment of a series of events organised by Boulouki in Santorini and Therasia. Following two applied (field-research and construction) workshops, the Symposium aimed to be a theoretical counterpart and to generate an interaction between different fields around the study of landscapes. It comprised keynote lectures by distinguished thinkers and a three-day workshop for young researchers (PhD students, early-stage Post-Docs) and practitioners from all disciplines that engage critically with landscape and its transformations (architecture/landscape architecture, environmental studies and ecology, geography, ethnography, history, archaeology, fine arts, etc.).
The Symposium Under the Landscape aimed for a critical reevaluation of the very term and notion of the ‘landscape’ and its potential value as a meeting ground for strategic collaborations. Landscapes provide a common ground to address the complex societal and environmental challenges of the 21st century. They are loci of coexistence, but they are also places where human-caused environmental ‘damage’ (to lend a term introduced by Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing) becomes evident and even tangible . The Anthropocene finds its meaning(s) in the landscape and its ‘scars’. A focus on the landscape allows us then to anchor seemingly abstract and remote global challenges to a specific time and space; as Bruno Latour notes, in the landscape we find ‘a place to land’. In this, the location of the symposium is crucial: theoretical explorations interacted with the physical landscapes of Santorini and Therasia. The evident contrast between the overdeveloped landscape of the former and the neglected landscape of the latter provides a productive conceptual space to think towards the future of the landscapes with(in) which we live.
Invocations of landscape in everyday speech are often combined with its understanding as a panorama, an object of observation or admiration. If today such an appreciation of landscape is associated with its commodification, it nevertheless seems to have its roots in a deeper detachment of the human being from her environment, tracing back as far as 1350 AD, when Petrarch climbed up Mount Ventoux, with the apparently novel intention of ‘admiring the view’. In the following centuries, ‘aesthetic’ understandings of landscape appear to have developed in tandem with the intention to treat landscape (and the world at large) as an object of rational planning and organization. Such perspectives increasingly disconnect the practical and productive aspects of landscape from the ideas and values that underpin it, and are tacitly reproduced within it.
This aligns with one of the key issues that this symposium addressed; namely, the problems that arise when landscape is discussed and studied through fundamental dichotomies of Modernity – such as the opposition of utility and beauty that has shadowed the development of aesthetics since the 18th century – and how these block our perception of other readings. And, by the same token, we are interested in how we can further explore integrated understandings of a ‘substantive’ landscape as a locus of everyday tasks, social relations and symbolic representations. A focus on the embodied, essentially localised interactions with landscapes can function as a tactical way of counterbalancing dominant narratives and existing hierarchies of power. In this connection, indigenous cosmologies and stories of pre-modern commons, as well as feminist epistemologies, encourage us to explore alternative readings of landscape.
The Symposium Under the Landscape welcomed proposals that, through the study of specific landscapes and their representations (contemporary and historical), highlight critical issues across the spectrum of sciences, social struggles and broader cultural production. In this way it builds on the holistic nature of landscape, which renders it into a useful concept for the coming together of different fields and forms of knowledge. Thus, this symposium aimed to cross-fertilize different research strands with critical tools and concepts provided by fields such as architecture, engineering, geoscience, philosophy, cultural geography, environmental humanities, and ethnography; in ways that challenge divisions between the humanities and the ‘hard’ sciences, ‘nature’ and ‘culture’, ‘expert’ and ‘local’ knowledge, between the human and the non-human worlds.
The Symposium was a two-fold event: The first day (26 June) took place in Santorini, as a conference, open to the public. It featured four keynote lectures by scholars from the fields of philosophy, cultural geography, landscape architecture, and ethnography. In the following three days (27, 28 June and 29 June) the Symposium moved to the island of Therasia – just a few sea miles from Santorini – taking the form of an itinerant, outdoor workshop focused on the research of the selected participants (selected on the basis of their abstract). They selected participants were divided into four sessions, each corresponding to one of the keynote lectures. Each session took place in a different location in Therasia (focusing on different instances of its natural and man-made landscape), and it was chaired by one keynote speaker, alongside a guest commentator. The symposium concluded with a final keynote lecture open to the public (29 June), back in the island of Santorini.
 Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, Heather Anne Swanson, Elaine Gan, and Nils Bubandt (eds) Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet. Ghosts of the Anthropocene (Minneapolis : University of Minnesota Press, 2017).
 The term ‘landscape scars’ was introduced by Anna Storm in A. Storm, Post-industrial Landscape Scars (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014).
 Bruno Latour, Down to Earth: Politics in the New Climatic Regime, English edition (Cambridge, UK ; Medford, MA: Polity Press, 2018). For an overview of relational theories (including the work of Bruno Latour), and their applicability to landscape research, see Martin Döring, Cormac Walsh & Linde Egberts ‘Beyond nature and culture: relational perspectives on the Wadden Sea landscape’, Maritime Studies 20, 225–234 (2021)
 Petrarca, Francesco, The Ascent of Mount Ventoux: A Letter from Petrarch. (New York: Petrarch Press, 1989). Of course, this historical moment is far from what we would today call the aestheticization of the landscape, but it nevertheless provides us with a landmark for a time of successive shifts in the conception of nature (and art).
 In The Ethical Function of Architecture (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2000) philosopher Karsten Harries has shown how the rise of the ‘aesthetic approach’ in Art and Architecture needs to be seen as the other side of the emancipation of objectifying reason, in the modern age.
 In his studies of landscape, Kenneth Olwig has accurately traced the transformations of the term ‘landscape’ and its progressive entrapment between pictorial and territorial perceptions, throughout Modernity. See: Kenneth Olwig, The Meanings of Landscape: Essays on Place, Space, Environment and Justice (Abingdon, Oxon; New York, NY: Routledge, 2019). For an integrated understanding of landscape from the perspective of dwelling and its tasks, see also Tim Ingold. ‘The Temporality of the Landscape’, World Archaeology 25, no. 2 (1993): 152–74.
 See Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, As We Have Always Done : Indigenous Freedom through Radical Resistance. (Minneapolis; London: University of Minnesota Press, 2020); Donna Haraway, ‘Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective’, Feminist Studies 14, no. 3 (1988): 575–99.
The Symposium kicked off with the lectures of four key-note speakers from the fields of cultural geography, landscape architecture, environmental humanities, and philosophy. The work of these recognized researchers defines the international state of the art around architecture and landscape. Each key-note speaker led one of the groups of participants in the workshop phase of the event.
Tim Ingold is Emeritus Professor of Social Anthropology in the University of Aberdeen. His pioneering approach to material culture, through the overlaps of archaeology and anthropology, architecture and art, has made him one of the most prominent voices internationally around the studies of “making”. In his work, issues of embodied perception and skilled practice are explored within both social and environmental contexts, yielding a situated and relational understanding of the (more-than-human) world. At the same time, his studies specifically around the question of landscape have been highly influential, receiving international and interdisciplinary acknowledgement.
Karsten Harries is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy in Yale University. He is a thinker in the fields of modern philosophy, and theory of art and architecture. Among his work, The Ethical Function of Architecture (1998) traces the historical transformations of ideas around the cultural role of architecture and art, throughout modernity. His view on the tension between the ‘ethical’ and the ‘aesthetic’ understanding of this role is proposed to be seen as a key concept to approach the complex theme of the landscape.
Teresa Gali-Izard is a landscape architect and a Professor in ETH Zurich, She is the founder of the award-winning studio Arquitectura Agronomia, together with Jordi Nebot, and she has completed projects in Europe and Latin America. She has taught in Harvard Graduate School of Design, and she is the writer of The same landscapes: Ideas and interpretations (Gustavo Gili, 2006). In her research, she studies the formation of Mediterranean landscape systems. Her practice explores possibilities of coexistence between species and processes; every landscape is then designed as a complex, dynamic ecosystem.
Kenneth Olwig is a Professor Emeritus of Landscape Planning in the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. He has studied the concept of landscape in different cultural contexts, and its relationships with justice and governance. In his seminal article ‘Recovering the Substantive Nature of Landscape’ (1996) he is advocating for a ‘substantive’ landscape, which comes in contrast with the ‘apparent’ one. This, and other influential essays, are included in the recently published collection The meanings of Landscape: Essays on Place, Space, Environment, and Justice (Routledge, 2019).
Jane Mah Hutton is a landscape architect, teaching at the University of Waterloo School of Architecture. Her research focuses on the expanded relationships of the act of building – examining the movement of materials as they pass from production landscapes (plantations, quarries, factories) through designed constructions (buildings, landscapes, infrastructure), to care and maintenance (labour practices) through demolition and disposal or re-use, matters that are also substantially explored in her book Reciprocal Landscapes: Stories of Material Movements. Examining the socially and ecologically harmful legacies of colonial capitalist land development, this research aims to strengthen connections between material practices and land relations, in solidarity with people, other species, and landscapes elsewhere.
Invited respondents and moderators.
Central to the discussions of the Symposium Under the Landscape was the role of moderators and invited commentators. This was undertaken by experienced academics from different fields, once more framing the question of landscape from complementary critical perspectives.
Karen Fog Olwig is Professor Emerita at the University of Copenhagen, Department of Anthropology. Her research has primarily concerned migration in a Caribbean context, while she has also looked at immigration and integration issues in Denmark. Key topics in her approach include the interrelationships between family networks, gender, mobility and belonging. Among her publications, Small Islands, Large Questions (Taylor & Francis Ltd, 1995) and Global Culture, Island Identity (Routledge, 2017), emphasize the interplay between local and global cultures and the importance of cultural display for peoples who have experienced the process of socioeconomic marginalization in the Western world.
Vassilis Ganiatsas is Professor of Architectural Design and Architectural Design Theory, as well as the Director of the Laboratory of Morphology at the School of Architecture at National Technical University of Athens. His research interests include conceptual and ontological approaches to the architectural project; also, he works towards the interpretation and promotion of natural landscapes and historical sites through design. At the same time, he is an award-winning architect, having received the EUROPA NOSTRA Medal (2010) for the restorations of the Hansen Building and the National Observatory of Athens complex.
Clairy Palyvou is Professor Emerita of the Department of Architecture, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, where she served as director of the postgraduate program "Protection, Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Monuments". Her academic work focuses on prehistoric architecture and art in the Aegean, and has been recognized with international awards. At the same time, she has been the scientific director of the research project 'Timeless Island Cultures: The Case of Therasia', which focused on the ever-changing interactions between spatial elements and social groups that shaped the landscape of Therasia.
Theano S. Terkenli is a Professor at the Deparment of Geography, University of the Aegean. Her research interests include human geography, cultural geography, cultural landscapes, and tourism. She has formed part of many national and transnational projects of landscape research, ranging from perception, to policy and planning. Among her major publications, her book Το Πολιτισμικό Τοπίο: Γεωγραφικές Προσεγγίσεις (tr: The Cultural Landscape: Geographical Approaches) published in 1996, is one of the most significant pieces of literature concerning Greek landscapes (and beyond).
Karsten Harries, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, Yale University
Kenneth Olwig, Professor Emeritus of Landscape Planning, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Vassilis Ganiatsas, Professor of Architecture, National Technical University of Athens
Klairi Palivou, Professor Emerita of History of Architecture at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
Theano Terkenli, Professor of Human and Cultural Geography at University of Aegean
Faidon Moudopoulos-Athanasiou, Dr in Archaeology, dept. of Archaeology the University of Sheffield
Nikos Magouliotis, PhD candidate, ETH Zurich
Marilena Mela, PhD candidate, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Ionas Sklavounos, PhD candidate, University of Antwerp