Inventory of China's traditional Landscapes in Yangtze and Pearl River Deltas: Connecting Ethnophysiography and Applied Toponymy

Project: Research

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The expression "traditional landscape" refers to landscapes of high cultural value that have gradually and continuously evolved and stratified over centuries. However, with the recent occurrence of large-scale changes, these landscapes have undergone progressive fragmentation and their territorial heterogeneity has become homogenized. In China, traditional landscapes are often referred to as "pearls of traditional culture" and "national folk treasures" and are mainly identified in rural contexts. However, following approximately four decades of hyper-urbanization, these heritage landscapes are facing the risk of excessive fragmentation and the drastic loss of biodiversity related to the progressive disappearance of vast rural areas. The central government of China has initiated a long-term project for the examination, evaluation, and preservation of rural areas, among which rural villages comprise the highest proportion.   Today, people are increasingly becoming aware that the management of natural resources and heritage cannot be considered separately but requires integrative management. This awareness has practical implications for the future of traditional landscape planning in China. Similarly, it also influences scientific research, which underlies the formulation of policy actions for heritage site preservation and traditional landscape reconnaissance.   One of the major issues faced by modern landscape research and management policies arises from the disjunction between ecological and cultural perspectives. To achieve a high level of integration between social and ecological systems, recent research on landscape ecology emphasizes the importance of connecting natural sciences and humanistic disciplines to understand how a landscape is responsible for the development of distinct cultural relations and identities of a place.In this respect, the study of toponyms can significantly contribute to the identification of the features of traditionaI landscapes. Toponyms are symbolic texts incorporated in a broader system of meanings and ideologies used and interpreted by the people of a place. The recent development of an ethnophysiographic approach in place name studies enables us to understand how a landscape and its elements are conceptualized and expressed through languages in local cultures. The main purpose of this study is to create a comprehensive cartographic inventory of China's traditional landscapes in the delta regions of Yangtze and Pearl rivers. The study is conducted using a methodology that combines the classification of ethnophysiographic attributes of rural toponyms and their spatial geo-localization. 


Project number7200621
Effective start/end date1/03/19 → …