טכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל
הטכניון מכון טכנולוגי לישראל - בית הספר ללימודי מוסמכים  
Ph.D Thesis
Ph.D StudentNir Chen
SubjectLandscape as a Discourse: Environmental Concepts,
Policy and Agricultural Landscape - Bikat HaNadiv
Region as a Case study 1882-1918
DepartmentDepartment of Architecture and Town Planning
Supervisor Professor Shaul Amir
Full Thesis text - in Hebrew Full thesis text - Hebrew Version


Abstract

Agricultural landscapes are created in a process of food and fiber production. Since the end of the 20th century, agricultural landscapes are appreciated as suppliers of ecological and cultural services. In Israel, a shortage of open spaces and rising population density trigger a conflict between development and conservation of agricultural landscapes. It provided the motivation for this research that examines the relationship between environmental concepts, policies and agricultural landscape. Intersecting these topics generated the research questions:

What is the contribution of environmental concepts to the meaning of landscape? How do environmental concepts contribute to policy formulation? What is the policy's contribution to the physical landscape? And how does the physical landscape contribute to landscape meaning?

Based on Tress and Tress, 2001, the research presupposed landscape as a system of interrelationships between physical and imagined dimensions changing through time. An initial model was formulated describing how environmental concepts and policies interact with the landscape dimensions. The initial model did not correspond with the findings and was refined to describe the landscape as a discourse, a network of reciprocal relationships among knowledge, consciousness, rhetoric devices, tangible objects and actions. The discursive approach provided methodological basis for an interdisciplinary research combining three complementary methods:

- Discourse analysis of texts (diaries, memoirs, and letters) unveiled environmental concepts of people who created the landscape;

- Interpretive policy analysis of documents illustrated the relationship between environmental concepts and practices;

-Spatial analysis depicted physical landscape change.

Integrating the results provided insight to the forces creating landscape. The methods were implemented in a case study of Bikat Ha Nadiv agricultural landscape 1882-1918.

During the research period, Jewish landscape creators expressed a predominant separatist environmental conception. They detached humans from the environment concerning them as the sole morally considerable sentient and evaluated non humans as commodities. A “progress and modernization narrative” envisioned work, knowledge and technology as tools for improving human condition. The Jewish settlers assigned various meanings to the local agricultural landscape: Uncultivated they described it as hostile and waste, after cultivation as a familiar place and finally upon successes as paradise.

Agricultural policy expressed a separatist discourse. However, gaps in the way Jewish groups understood topics as religion or economics led to struggles about implementation and to differences in policy. In addition, the physical landscape contributed to policy formulation. Policy differences created three types of physical landscape:

In the first year the Jewish settlers established self-sufficient family farms, planting various crops.

1883-1900 Baron Rothschild promoted large scale industrialized modern orchard farms. 

1900-1918 JCA administration reduced industrialization and created modern extensive mixed family farms, combining orchards, vineyards, grains and livestock.  

Despite a dominant separatist discourse the research found differences in the meaning of the landscape, policy, and physical landscape. The differences arose from other topics on the settlers’ agenda and the physical landscape. 

The approach to landscape as a discourse exposed forces shaping the landscape. It identified how environmental concepts and policy contribute to agricultural landscape creation, offering a new perspective for agricultural landscape planning and management.