doi 10.4067/S0718-83582013000200002


Transdisciplinary Interpretation of Daily Landscapes, towards a Heritage Valuation. Approximation Method1


Juan Francisco Ojeda Rivera2

2 Spain. Professor at the University of Seville. Academic, Department of Geography, History and Philosophy, Pablo de Olavide University, Seville.


Within the context of a complex, trajectory-based and democratic conception of landscape, this paper offers an expert and mediator methodology for the interpretation of scenery. It explores multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary topics to conclude with the generation of transdisciplinary findings. Such a methodology has been tested in different areas of Andalusia and other regions of Spain and France and even in the Colombian Coffee Belt. The application of this procedure is presented with an example that may be replicated in the interpretation of some important landscapes of Sierra de Huelva or Sierra de Aracena, Spain. This research aims to demonstrate the replicability of an interpretative and transdisciplinary method that is still being tested.



Conceptual Bases: Complexity, Trajectory-based Concept, Ubiquity and Democratic Value of Landscapes and Heritage.

Landscapes are complex realities that bring together natural elements which, either as limitation, difficulty or resource in terms of technical or cultural contexts, make up what is known as geographic space. These are historical processes in which different elements have been arranged through a series of critical events that turned such spaces into territories or countries, including a successive and accumulated series of perceptions, representations and symbolizations3 that conceptualized these territories or countries until they became landscapes4.

Those who drafted the letter requesting the inclusion of the Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia (CCL) on the UNESCO World Heritage List not only comprehend the singularity of such a landscape, but also the complexity of it:

“The Coffee Cultural Landscape region is a remarkable example of human adaptation to difficult geographic conditions upon which a slope-land and mountain coffee farming was developed. This landscape combines the human, familiar and generational effort of coffee farmers with their institutional structure, establishing a great model of collective action that helped to overcome adverse economic conditions and thus survive in such a wild and isolated landscape.

This is how the coffee farming based on small property has been developed, demonstrating economic, social and environmental sustainability and positioning its product as one of the most valuable commodities in the world... The combination of this coffee farming tradition with the legacy from the occupation and use of this territory, a process known as the “colonization of Antioquia”, is the essence of the character of this region.

These events have influenced different aspects of regional culture, generating a series of musical, gastronomical and architectural expressions that have been passed down to generations. Likewise, these processes have defined the personality of this population by endowing them with dedication to work, entrepreneurship and economic independence. The deep-rooted nature of this coffee farming tradition based on small property and work, the social and institutional capital developed around the product, the preservation of traditional crop-growing techniques and the coffee culture itself define the exceptional nature of this cultural landscape. These elements add an exceptional value to the region, thus justifying the request for the inclusion of the CCL on the World Heritage List”5.

The scientific stance regarding the notion of landscape refers to a preferential focus on natural and agricultural spaces. This is why it is common to hear about “natural landscapes” and “cultural landscapes”, depending on whether their respective constitutions highlight the elements of either character. It is also possible to talk about “urban landscape”, though such a concept is not frequently used and most of texts refer to it as urban morphology, urban image, land development or even city, without hesitation. These concepts do not seem to be appropriate and the growing importance of landscape, from an intellectual and practical perspective, demands specificity and precision regarding the use of such a complex notion; in this connection, the European Landscape Convention increased the intellectual focus on this topic and, as a result, there is a large number of contributions aimed at correcting this verbal abuse and the recurring ambiguity and polysemy problems derived from the use of this concept6.

Therefore, landscapes are medial or trajectory-based realities located between subjectivized objective components and objectivized subjective perceptions. It is like a yin-yang in which territories, perceptions and perspectives interact, resulting in a shared relationship of belonging and creation between subjects and objects. Such a relationship merges aesthetic and ethic attitudes7. Given the double historical efficacy of landscape, as the “vital framework” and “territorial culture” of a community and as a text or work of art, this observed, enjoyed and created scenery does not only belong to the last observers, enthusiasts or creators, it also moves other observers, enthusiasts and creators who, in the case of the latter group, leave records in their memories and even original and personal works. Neither memories nor works are subjective because they belong to a cultural chain of observation, enjoyment and creative emotion8.

The institutional position of the European Council, enshrined in the European Landscape Convention (2002), considers that, apart from beautiful scenery, everything is landscape. It is also stated that landscape should be a democratic value and not only an exclusive feature of those from elite groups because it belongs to all. It seems that the contemporary institutional discourse promotes changing the landscape perspective from an elitist to a democratic approach, thus adding value to everyday landscapes not only as symbols of the contemporary development of a community that expresses a shared intelligence9 by merging aesthetic, ethic and politics10, but also as sites socially recognized as community heritage. Therefore, landscape and heritage share the nature of being complex and trajectory-based concepts due to their medial position between objects and subjects and between material realities, as well as artistic, historical or geographic phenomena, and cultural expressions; and democratic concepts as they are free and belong to all11.


Theoretical Framework of this Methodology for Interpretation: Hermeneutics and Landscape Experience.

It seems that hermeneutics is the appropriate method to scientifically explain, interpret and communicate the concept of landscape in a comprehensible way given its reality, which has been described as complex, medial and trajectory-based, derived from the Tao and difficult to understand for western science.

What is hermeneutics? This discipline takes its name from hermeneuein= to interpret messages (a task carried out by the god Hermes, who communicated with other gods and then with human beings). Plato and Aristotle refer to this concept as the mediator character of intelligibility, the external expression of an internal word, the interpretation of a statement that cannot be understood or the translation from foreign languages into the familiar language.

A knowledge of interpretative character involves synthesizing, understanding and communicating a complex reality through simple words (it could be either a historical process, a culture, a text, a symphony, a wine, a landscape...).

Within a romantic context, the German theologian and philosopher Schleiermacher (1768-1864), concerned about the different interpretations of Biblical scriptures, posed that the interpretation of any text (as a complex reality) requires an exegetical method based on the search of truth rather than on spontaneity. Such an approach led to the systematization of the different hermeneutical disciplines (theology, law and philology) into a single general hermeneutics that reflected the art of comprehension and dialogue between authors and readers.

This modern romantic conception evolved into philosophic hermeneutics, a discipline that, framed within the German phenomenology, dominated the twentieth century. This branch included domains such as the Transcendental Phenomenology of Sigmund Husserl (1859-1938), understood as a rigorous scientific discipline based on the fact that the visual perception or experience of phenomena allows the comprehension of invariabilities or essences, to the Hermeneutical Phenomenology of Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) who, within a historical (Dilthey) and irrationalist (Kierkegaard or the supremacy of life over reason) neokantian context (faced against positivism and idealism), deals with the hermeneutics of comprehension and facts. In this sense, the latter author states that real life and all its related complex phenomena are in a state of interpretation that should be decoded.

The last years of the twentieth century saw the crises in the domains of analytical philosophy, marxist scholastic, structuralism and existentialism and the need of combining the radicalism of a universal philosophy with the appropriation of cultural traditions. In such a context, Hans Georg Gadamer (1900-2002) reinstated the Aristotelian hermeneutics as the foundation of all humanist knowledge; to this end, this theory was based on: the power of the transfer of historical traditions -being interpretation the ability to take part in the transmission of knowledge- and the linguistic event -it occurs when hermeneutics translates the artistic, natural or landscape languages into the familiar language.

In sum, philosophical hermeneutics confirms the importance of direct experience when it comes to interpreting the landscape. In the words of the Sevillian geographer J.V. Caballero, “in the first part of Truth and Method, as well as in subsequent contributions (...) Gadamer poses an aesthetic experience theory that, based on the acquisition of knowledge, ‘makes us recognize our world as never before’ (Grondin 2003). Gadamer also points out that the aesthetic experience is like a game, since individuals do not merely observe a landscape but take part in it12.

Likewise, this proposed method for the interpretation of landscape sets the rules of the aforementioned game, which, being developed through collective experience, is divided into three analytical steps:

• The multidisciplinary data that generates spatial, territorial and perceptive-connotative keys consistent with the analyzed “vital framework”.

• The direct and collective experience which, defined by the aforementioned keys and materialized in the form of significant landscapes, aims to be interdisciplinary and find significant landscape values. Such an objective is accomplished through the establishment of boundaries or contrasts as well as singular abstract features and elements that determine the experience of landscape. The final goal is to look for the sense or meaning of landscape.

• The ultimate and transdisciplinary interpretation of landscape which, based on the two aforesaid steps, allows readers to freely explore the different disciplines brought together in this interpretation of landscape.

These stages are successively discussed, but not without first setting some basic premises for the sake of ensuring an easy reading.


Premises and stages of a hermeneutical interpretation of landscape

The main goal of an expert interpretation of landscape is to offer spatial, territorial and perceptive keys. Likewise, this paper aims to evoke individual immersion experiences in concrete and significant landscapes so as to generate interpretations in situ as well as visual conceptualizations. The purpose of such an evocation is to highlight the emotional links and ethical commitments between society and landscape.

This interpretation is a hermeneutical exercise in which experts play the role of mediators by asking themselves: how could we instill a sense of recognition, enjoyment, comprehension and value of landscape and thus highlight social appreciation and ethical commitment?

To properly respond to such a question, these landscape experts take up basic convictions to guide this interpretative exercise:

• Considering the information, knowledge, perceptions and representations embedded in every landscape, and since the complexity of landscape demands a mediation between the landscape itself and potential actors, experts and creators, there is an urgent need of expert responsibility. In this way, the intricate nature of landscape is translated into a familiar language within a concrete historical context.

Landscapes are like texts, works of art, wines or coffee. They can be read, admired or tasted by everyone; however, the explanations of mediators and their transmission of knowledge and valuations are essential to encourage the understanding and valuation of landscapes by all.

• Given that landscapes bring together natural elements, historical events, and different perceptions, representations and symbolizations, this interpretative exercise makes a transition from multidisciplinarity to interdisciplinarity before concluding with a transdisciplinary approach. The analysis of landscape and its subsequent comprehension demand the creation of multidisciplinary work teams (each expert analyzes an assigned object) that will converge within an interdisciplinary context (all experts try to understand and generate a common analysis of a single object) before eventually generating transdisciplinary interpretative exercises (in which different experts, enlightened by the joint interdisciplinary analysis and through individual or collective contributions, cross the borders of their respective domains. See figure 1.

From the different landscape interpretative exercises conducted since 1998, those studies related to the significant Andalusian and Huelva landscapes of Sierra Morena de Huelva (also known as Sierra de Aracena), Spain, have been chosen to illustrate the aforementioned hermeneutical method. Such a selection was made on the basis that these are the most elaborated pieces of research available, despite their replicability. Likewise, this type of research has been conducted in different parts of Andalusia (Sierra de las Nieves, located in the Penibaetic System; La Vera, located within the Doña Ana National Park or some areas of the Province of Almeria) and other regions of Spain and France and even in the Colombian Coffee Belt. See figure 2.


Figure 1. Diagram of disciplinary moments during the hermeneutical interpretation of landscape


A. Multidisciplinary Approximation to the Subject under Discussion. Basic, Spatial, Territorial and Landscape Keys.

The first objective behind the creation of multidisciplinary teams is the gathering of background from each team member and their respective disciplines so as to build a collective capital of shared knowledge. This action ensures the generation of multidisciplinary approaches to spatial, territorial and landscape keys which, through dialogue and consensus, will eventually evolve into a common language designed to conduct an expert and interdisciplinary interpretation of landscapes.

Figure 2 illustrates the application example conducted in Sierra Morena de Huelva13 and shows the situation of Andalusia at national level and the situation of Huelva and Sierra Morena at local level. This figure provides information regarding the Sierra de Huelva region, an area with 29 municipalities, of which Aracena, Cortegana, Aroche and Jabugo are notable examples, and 39,854 inhabitants (13,1 people per km2) distributed over 3,046km2. Most of the territory of this region is surrounded by the Sierra de Aracena and Picos de Aroche National Park which, along the Sierra Norte and Hornachuelos National Parks, was included in the World Network of Biosphere Reserves back in November, 2002, under the name of “Dehesas de Sierra Morena”. This territory, also known as pasture, is a unique landscape from western Spain and shows a secular, biodiverse and wise agroforestry development based on the removal of the inner parts of the evergreen oak Mediterranean forest (quercus ilex and cork oak), constant sowing, the use of pastures and nuts (acorns) for cattle and the use of firewood and corks for forestry purposes14. See figure 2.


Figure 2. Situation of Andalusia at national level and situation of Huelva and Sierra Morena at local level.

Source: Statistics and Cartography Institute (IECA). Regional Government of Andalusia. Author’s elaboration.


The collection and linking of the different approximations made by the environmentalists, geographers, historians, sociologists, artists and writers involved in this research yields the following shared keys:


Spatial Keys of Sierra Morena de Huelva:

- Geohydrology: There is a large presence of hard and impermeable rock structures (reservoirs) with contact metamorphism (mining). This area shows a certain rupture of the Armorican orientation of the Appalachian relief over Sierra Morena (extending from west to east, north of Huelva, Seville, Córdoba and Jaén) as the result of Alpine oregeny. Such a geologic event created a central massif (Cortegana-Aracena) that separates rain and upwelling water from devonian limestones. There are four hydrographic basins laying around this massif, they delineate the borders among different subareas.

Figure 3 shows cartographic maps which, from a geologic, topographic and hydrologic perspective, provide geohydrological keys summarizing the knowledge of these disciplines.


Figure 3. Cartographic, Topographic and Hydrologic Maps of Sierra Morena de Huelva.

Source: Cartographic data retrieved from IECA. Elaborated by Manuel Rodríguez Álvarez for the Sierra Morena de Huelva Field Notebook (2011).


- Climate, biologic and geographic keys: Sierra de Huelva stands out for having its own climate in a dry and hot region. The humidity of this area, caused by the relief rainfall generated in the Atlantic, is largely above the average rainfall of Andalusia. These characteristics, along the oceanic heat and altitude regulation, provide spatial climate welfare as well as different meso and microclimates and a highly diverse biodiversity (marcescence and evergreen deciduous plants and a thick and rich understory): “Small and diverse is beautiful”.

Figure 4 shows cartographic maps highlighting the aforementioned keys.


Figure 4. Thermal, Rainfall and Biogeographic Maps of Sierra Morena de Huelva.

Source: Cartographic data retrieved from IECA. Elaborated by Manuel Rodríguez Álvarez for the Sierra Morena de Huelva Field Notebook (2011).


Territorial Keys of Sierra Morena de Huelva:

Boundary or limit: This area has played a key role as a military, cultural -Christian and Muslim people during the Middle Ages- and administrative -shares a border with Portugal since modern times- boundary; such a condition places the Sierra de Huelva region in a marginal position in relation to the centers of power15. As a result, this area has an urban planning dominated by elements common to border areas such as fortresses, castles, barren and communal lands and clear dividing lines.

Figure 5 highlights the borderland nature of this region and shows the location of castles and fortresses.

Colonial territory: The aforementioned territorial marginality and the low agricultural value of soil turned Sierra de Huelva into an exploitation colony for the Galician and Aragonese people -from the Castilian conquest to the eighteenth century- and for the Catalonian people -from the eighteenth century onwards-. Over this period of time, this area experienced different soil uses (mining, agricultural water and consolidated production of chestnuts in the shady areas and corks in humid and sunny areas) related to external steel and agri-food industries.


Figure 5 Fortress and Castles Located in Two Historical Borderlines and Current Mining and Agricultural Activity in Sierra Morena de Huelva.

Source: Cartographic data retrieved from IECA. Elaborated by Manuel Rodríguez Álvarez for the Sierra Morena de Huelva Field Notebook (2011).


Since the eighteenth century (after the ecclesiastical confiscation and the romantic and clorophilic processes), Sierra de Huelva has been experiencing the diversification and qualification of its production, thus becoming a supplier of highly valued products (ham, unique types of fruit, fresh air, beautiful landscapes) and a settlement colony (Seville) that offers a second urban residence, rural tourism and current-rurality16.

Figure 5 shows two colonial urban planning maps: While the first one is related to the omnipresence of mining, with the old basin of Riotinto, operated since Roman times, as a prominent example of this exploitation activity, the second map shows the agricultural use of soil in fertile lands with abundant supply of sunlight and water.


Landscape, Perceptive and Symbolic Keys:

• The image of nature for urbanites: Sierra Morena is some kind of a natural paradigm for most of the inhabitants of the rich and urbanized meadows and countryside of Guadalquivir. However, such a paradigm is represented by middle and harmonious landscapes and not by virgin nature, which does not exist in this area.

• Man has created middle landscapes between the artificial city and savage nature; in different periods and places, these landscapes have been regarded as a model for human habitat. Likewise, despite their evident cultural value, they are not conspicuous or arrogant. Landscapes illustrate how people overcame harsh natural conditions without going so far as to deny their roots in the organic world. Middle landscapes have also been praised for being more realistic than city and nature which, due to insubstantial and imperfection, seem to be unreal17.

• A Well-educated and Culturally Recognized area: The need of enhancing creativity in such a marginally productive area that offers a rich biodiversity and beautiful landscapes meant the generation of an autochthonous territorial culture (a comprehensive knowledge of the use of predatory resources) and a unique landscape culture(proliferation of places and metaphors created by foreign or local plastic artists and writers)18. The current neo-ruralism reinforces the features that, both visually and in situ, define the landscapes of Sierra de Huelva.

• “The Sierra... is a densely forested region with a changing landscape that generates privacy, just like mist, attentive to both the tenacity of man and his mysterious footsteps. The gift and darkness of this place is not unknown to those who walk and suffer around it. But the proud beauty of our fields is not in conflict with its dramatic tension, the kindness of its air and strict inner discomfort, the abundant light of vegetable gardens or the uncertain bright of pastures. Some elements embedded in its landscape, including quiet and disturbed people covered and crusted by themselves, are also included in this large inner world that gives off a severe and macerated light of mystery. And of course poets...”19.


Figure 6.Landscapes of Sierra Morena de Huelva Depicted by a Sevillian Painter.

Source: P. Broca paintings (2001): Alajar (oil on canvas). Castañal en Invierno I (wash painting).


B. Interdisciplinary and Comprehensible Interpretation of Significant Landscapes. Elaboration of Consensual Deductions or Common Approaches.

By using these keys as the basics of a shared language, each expert conducts a single analysis of the same object (landscape, defined as a reality that brings together spatial, territorial and perceptive elements), thus making a double transition from multidisciplinarity to interdisciplinarity and from disciplinary analyses to consensual comprehension and deduction.

Researchers are aware that the sum of the analyses made by their counterparts is more important than single approximations. Therefore, in order for this step to be completed, it is essential to elaborate a notebook intended to both check the progress made by the team and -through the collection of the keys proposed in the first stag- set a route with different stops for the application of the aforementioned keys in landscapes, places, concrete and important topics and intermediate rounds.

As for the example of Sierra Morena de Huelva, figure 7 shows the proposed route and stops outlined in the field notebook elaborated by the research team on Andalusian Agricultural Landscapes within the context of a visit to the provinces of Huelva and Alentejo (Portugal), on April, 2012. The goal of this initiative is to focus the analysis on landscapes, topics and concrete and significant places (see figure 7).

This notebook, intended to draft a common language within the context of this research, was completed on the road thanks to the convergence of the direct and shared analysis of landscapes and places made by experts. This initiative categorizes different approximations through the establishment of limits (dividing lines of scales and panoramic, middle and detailed perspectives), main constituents (visible or perceptible elements that define the analyzed space, territory and landscape), attributes (abstract and unique qualities of each scenario) and essential meaning (phrase, text or icon used to synthesize the subjects under discussion, as agreed upon by readers).


Figure 7. Map Describing the Route and Stops Outlined in the Field Notebook Elaborated within the Context of a Collective Visit to Sierra Morena de Huelva.

Source: Cartographic data retrieved from IECA. Elaborated by Manuel Rodríguez Álvarez for the Sierra Morena de Huelva Field Notebook (2011).


Figure 8. Limits of Panoramic, Middle and Detailed Perspectives

Source: Pictures taken by Marta Rubio, Sierra Morena de Huelva Field Notebook (2011).


In this connection, the landscape interpretation of Ruedo de Linares, included in the route elaborated for this research, may contain the following categorizations:

• Limits

• Main elements:

- Middle peneplanated and densely forested mountains in the background.

- Mid-slope pastures and the village with a gallery forest located in the bank.

- Mixed arboriculture: From almond and strawberry trees to citrus trees.

- Roads surrounded by dry stone walls.

- Narrow streets, channels and vegetable gardens.

- Operative public washing area.

• Features:

- Importance of water and sun for biodiversity: There is a rich and varied area shaped by the effects of water, sun and temperature.

- Old irrigation methods.

- A certain aesthetic of abandonment.

• Essential meaning or consensual deduction:

- Cultural and heritage richness; unique beauties in decadence.


Towards a Shared Relationship of Belonging and Creation. The Transdisciplinary Openness and Migration and Possible Products:

This expert and mediator interpretation of landscapes leads to transdisciplinary insights that will be translated into research or creative works characterized by the broadening of the points of view of their respective authors. In this way, the final transdisciplinary interpretation of landscapes will be carried out through new creative and disciplinary specific approximations which -determined by the new keys yielded by the interdisciplinary interpretation- will both transcend the frontiers of their respective approaches and domains and produce new processes of shared belonging and creation among readers, authors and landscapes19. These processes, through new and operational accounts, will be added to the hermeneutical chain of interpretation and comprehension of analyzed, conceptualized and valued landscapes.

The example of Sierra Morena de Huelva shows the results of two opposite approximations made from different, but closely intertwined, academic domains:

A.- Marta Rubio Tenor, PhD in geography and environmentalist, after comparing quantitative indicators and qualitative observations regarding the landscape features of Sierra de Huelva, highlighted the importance of the qualitative and rigorous opinion of the individual who bases his analysis on his own knowledge; such a conception is included in her doctoral thesis . This is a territorial and landscape account of Linares:

“The territorial planning of Sierra de Aracena, with its rocks, omnipresent hills, small enclosed plots and villages located mid and low slope, has generated remote everyday landscapes that tend to remain hidden from direct observation. However, this landscape breaks this pattern and it only takes to turn the corner to behold and amazing natural scene: a depression surrounded by undulating mountains; it is like a pot where this mountain lifestyle is slowly cooked, being the town of Linares de la Sierra and its cobbled streets, vegetable gardens and orchards, the rivers and gallery forests as well as the pastures, the Iberian pig, the Mediterranean bushes and the reforestation of pine and eucalyptus trees the ingredients of such a delightful dish. This is an old landscape that seems to be impassible and immobile. This is a hidden and remote place that is connected to the rest world by a fragile link: the road”20.

B.-Ana Coronado is an architect who is currently working on her doctoral thesis on the diagnosis and modeling of transition landscapes between villages and the borders of Sierra de Huelva. Her research is aimed at offering aesthetic and ethical criteria for potential land development projects in this area.

To this effect, she designs and represents the relationship between Linares and its topography, roads, courses of water, plot division and the different agricultural uses of its borders. The aim of this research is to establish defining characters regarding the linkage between Linares and its borders as a village closely related to water given both its location surrounded by streams and springs and the presence of rich biogeography and plot division (see figure 9).


Figure 9. Nucleus between Streams and Springs, Biodiversity and Micro Plot Division

Source: Ana Coronado (2012)


Thanks the knowledge acquired as the result of the exploration through different domains (geology, topography, biology, geography, history, sociology) and the development of interdisciplinary approaches in successive field work, this architect offers an approximation to territorial planning and relationship vectors between two villages and their borders in Sierra de Huelva (Linares and Cañaveral de León). While these areas share their relation to water and their urban-rural management, there are differences as far as territorial and landscape solutions are concerned. Such a model ensures the establishment of rigorous criteria and arguments for future land development projects (see figure 10).


Figure 10. Threshold or Transition Models between Villages and Borders Closely Related to Irrigation (Linares and Cañaveral de León)

Source: Ana Coronado (2012)


Despite differing to a great extent (anthropological interpretation/geographical explanation/environmental approximation/composition of construction guidelines), these examples taken from independent doctoral theses share a methodological development based on multidisciplinary interpretation -leading to the discovery of comprehensible keys- and interdisciplinary collective approximation -analysis of shared objects. Being already immersed in a transdisciplinary pool of knowledge, these contributions allow the elaboration of a common language and common accounts and provide insights into the respective knowledge of an anthropologist, a geographer, an environmentalist and an architect.

There is a growing number of research exploring these inter and transdisciplinary methods to comprehend landscapes. The doctoral theses on the landscapes of Valle de Carranza and the landscape value of Sierras del Estrecho de Gibraltar, conducted by Basque anthropologist Nuria Cano22 and Andalusian geographer César López23, respectively, provide new and valuable links to the interpretative and comprehensible chains of landscape.


Synthesis and Conclusions

This paper addresses the complex, medial and trajectory-based definition of landscape. Such a concept, traced back to the Tao culture, is difficult to understand by the linear and rationalist western society. However, this tradition has been rediscovered within the context of the romantic paradigm and consolidated by the European Landscape Convention, which defines it as the different objective forms of territory, derived from natural and human factors, just as they are perceived by inhabitants. Then, landscape starts as an emotion and should be read before being understood and valued.

As a proposal, the landscape interpretation presented in this paper has theoretical roots in hermeneutics, art or traditional knowledge and was rediscovered by the German phenomenological philosophy. This latter discipline is focused on translating complex issues into the familiar language and giving value to those phenomena in which objective realities and subjective perceptions intermingle. Such an interpretation includes a comprehensive experimental process of direct observation as in the case of Sierra Morena de Huelva, also known as Sierra de Aracena (Spain).

Epistemologically, the proposed interpretative method is a response to widespread use of information that defines our computer-based and global context -to collect different multidisciplinary approaches about a subject under discussion- and the dissolution of the four pillars of certainty upon which science is based (deterministic Newton’s laws, Cartesian analytical separation, positivist quantifiable reduction and additive reasons, without emergencies). There is a need to concentrate the isles of knowledge into an archipelago through an interdisciplinary exercise based on the observation of significant landscapes.

Methodologically, and within the context of an open and convergent Cultural Geography, this paper offers a transdisciplinary proposal with concrete results -it shows the examples an environmentalist and an architect- based on both conceptual migration among different disciplines and the ability to elaborate literary metaphoric or iconographic metaphors from any perspective.

In sum, this hermeneutical interpretation of landscape is based on the accumulation of previous knowledge and its subsequent translation into informative language. The objective is to elaborate an account of landscapes and include it into the broadcasting network of knowledge.

This methodology should be particularly used in the fields of teaching and the planning of guidelines for future landscape projects.



1 This paper is part of the National Plan for Research, Development and Innovation (CSO2012-39564-C07-07, on Andalusian Heritage Landscapes) and the Andalusian Plan for Research, Development and Innovation (P09-HUM-5382, on Register of Perceptions and Representations of Andalusian Landscapes).
3 Ortega Cantero, 2004. 4 Roger, 2007 and Ojeda, 2012.
5 Comité Coordinador (Ministerio de Cultura y Federación Nacional de Cafeteros de Colombia), 2009, p. 4 y 5.
6 Zoido, 2012a.
7 Berque, 2009.
8 Caballero, 2012.
9 Ojeda, 2005.
10 Zoido, 2012.
11 Mata, Meer and Puente, 2012.
12 Caballero, 2012, p. 261.
13 Ministerio español de Ciencia e Innovación. Proyecto CSO2009-12225-C05-05. Subprograma GEOG, 2009 - 2012
14 Ojeda and Silva, 2002.
15 Núñez Roldán, 1986.
16 Ojeda and Silva, 2002; Ojeda, 2005a.
17 Tuan, 2003, p. 49.
18 Ojeda, 2005a.
19 Moya, 1996, p.10.
20 Berdoulay, 2002.
21 Rubio Tenor, 2010, p. 203.
22 Cano, 2011.
23 López, 2012.



BERDOULAY, Vincent. Sujeto y acción en la geografía cultural. El cambio sin concluir. [En línea]. Boletín de la Asociación de Geógrafos Españoles. (34): 51-61, 2002. ISSN 0212-9426. Disponible en:

BERQUE, Augustin. El pensamiento paisajero. Madrid: Biblioteca Nueva. 2009. 135 p. ISBN 978-84-9742-934-4.

BROCA, Paco. De sierra a mar. Catálogo de Exposición en Huelva (Foro Iberoamericano de la Rábida) y Dos Hermanas. Sevilla, Centro Cultural La Almona. 2001. 174 p. ISBN 84-8163-277-5.

CABALLERO SÁNCHEZ, Juan Vicente. Consideraciones sobre la naturaleza hermenéutica de la descripción geográfica. Las lecciones del Tableau de la Géographie de la France. En: FERIA, José María, coord., GARCÍA, Antonio, coord. y OJEDA, Juan Francisco, coord. Territorios, sociedades y políticas. Sevilla, Universidad Pablo de Olavide y Asociación de Geógrafos Españoles. 2009. p. 27-39, ISBN 978-84-933457-8-5.

CABALLERO SÁNCHEZ, Juan Vicente. Los valores paisajísticos. Elementos para la articulación entre teoría e interpretación del paisaje. [En línea]. Cuadernos geográficos de la Universidad de Granada. 51: 245-269, 2012. ISSN 0210-5462. Disponible en:

CANO SUÑÉN, Nuria. Miradas y tensiones en los paisajes del valle de Carranza. España, Departamento de Filosofía de los Valores y Antropología Social, Universidad del País Vasco. 2011. 341 p. Tesis doctoral inédita.

COMITÉ Coordinador (Ministerio de Cultura y Federación Nacional de Cafeteros de Colombia). Paisaje Cultural Cafetero Colombiano. Plan de Manejo. Bogotá, septiembre de 2009, p. 4 y 5

CONSEJO de Europa. Convenio europeo del paisaje. Textos y comentarios. Madrid, Ministerio de Medio Ambiente. 2007.

CORONADO, Ana. Umbrales. Transiciones entre conjuntos edificados y ruedos agrícolas en la Sierra Morena de Huelva. Sevilla, Universidad Pablo de Olavide. 2012. Trabajo Fin del Máster en Gestión del Territorio y Medio Ambiente. Texto inédito.

GRONDIN, Jean. Introducción a la hermenéutica filosófica. Barcelona, Herder. 2002.

LÓPEZ GÓMEZ, César. Valores paisajísticos de las Sierras del Estrecho (Cádiz). Una perspectiva hermenéutica. Sevilla, Facultad de Geografía e Historia Universidad de Sevilla. 2012. 867 p. Tesis doctoral inédita.

MATA OLMO, Rafael; MEER, Antonia de y PUENTE, Leonor de la. Sustainable development and the making of territory and everyday landscapes as heritage an experience in the Cantabrian mountains. [En línea]. En: FERIA, José M., ed. Territorial heritage and development. London, Taylor and Francis. 2012. p. 141-159. ISBN 978-0-203-10797-3. Disponible en:

MOYA, Manuel. Íntimo. Sierra de Aracena y Picos de Aroche. Huelva, Iniciativas Leader de Sierra de Aracena y Picos de Aroche. 1996. 54 p.

NÚÑEZ ROLDÁN, Francisco. En los confines del reino. Huelva a mediados del siglo XVIII. Huelva, Diputación Provincial. 1986. 425 p. ISBN 84-7405-361-7.

OJEDA, JUAN FRANCISCO. Les paysages, patrimoines naturels et culturels, facteurs d’un développement contemporain. [En línea]. (Site archivé au 1er septembre 2012). 2005. p. 27- 35. Disponible en:

OJEDA, JUAN FRANCISCO. Los paisajes totalizadores históricos. Paisajes paralelos en Doñana y Sierra Morena. En ORTEGA CANTERO, Nicolás, coord. Paisaje, memoria histórica e identidad nacional. Madrid, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. 2005b. p. 283-294. ISBN 84-7477-985-5.

OJEDA, JUAN FRANCISCO. Paisajes del bosque en Andalucía. Caracteres, hitos y emociones. [En línea]. Scripta Nova. 16(416), octubre 2012. ISSN 1138-9788. Disponible en:

OJEDA, JUAN FRANCISCO. Percepciones identitarias y creativas de los paisajes mariánicos. [En línea]. Scripta Nova. 9(187), abril 2005a. ISSN 1138-9788. Disponible en:

OJEDA, JUAN FRANCISCO y SILVA, Rocío. Aproximación a los paisajes de la Sierra Morena andaluza. En: ZOIDO NARANJO, Florencio, coord. y VENEGAS MORENO, Carmen, coord. Paisaje y ordenación del territorio. Sevilla, Junta de Andalucía, Consejería de Obras Públicas y Transportes. 2002. p. 71-91. ISBN 84-8095-293-8.

ORTEGA CANTERO, Nicolás. Naturaleza y cultura en la visión geográfica moderna del paisaje. En: ORTEGA CANTERO, Nicolás, coord. Naturaleza y cultura del paisaje. Madrid, UAM-FDS. 2004. p. 9-35. ISBN 9788474779202.

ROGER, Alain. Breve tratado del paisaje. Madrid, Biblioteca Nueva. 2007. 210 p. ISBN 84-9742-681-7.

RUBIO TENOR, Marta y RODRÍGUEZ ÁLVAREZ, M. Cuaderno de campo para lectura de paisajes de la Sierra Morena de Huelva. Equipo del Proyecto de I+D+i sobre Las unidades básicas de paisaje agrario de España: Identificación, delimitación, caracterización y valoración. La España meridional andaluza. (CSO2009-12225-C05-05)(Subprograma GEOG). 2011. Texto inédito.

RUBIO Tenor, Marta. Paisaje y calidad visual. Percepciones formales y sociales de paisajes singulares de la Sierra de Huelva. Sevilla, Facultad de Humanidades, Universidad Pablo de Olavide, 2010. 250 p. Tesis doctoral (en prensa).

TUAN, Yi-Fu. Escapismo. Formas de evasión en el mundo actual. Barcelona, Península. 2003. 301 p. ISBN 9788483075692.

ZOIDO NARANJO, Florencio. El paisaje, un concepto útil para relacionar estética, ética y política. [En línea]. Scripta Nova. 16(407), julio de 2012b. ISSN 1138-9788. Disponible en:

ZOIDO NARANJO, Florencio. Paisaje urbano. Aportaciones para la definición de un marco teórico, conceptual y metodológico. En: DELGADO VIÑAS, Carmen, ed.; JUARISTI LINACERO, Joseba, ed. y TOMÉ FERNÁNDEZ, Sergio, ed. Ciudades y paisajes urbanos en el siglo XXI. Santander, Ediciones Estudio. 2012a. p. 13-92. ISBN 978-84-932023-6-1.


Research projects about landscape (1998-2013):

Comité Andaluz de Reservas de la Biosfera. Proyecto sobre Las Dehesas de Sierra Morena como Reservas de la Biosfera. I.P.: Dr. Ojeda Rivera. 2000-2003.

Interreg Iii, A y Consejería de Cultura de la Junta de Andalucía. Proyecto Rihla. Itinerarios de cultura inmaterial. Andalucía-Marruecos. Itinerario I: Paisajes en las dos orillas. I.P.: Dr. Ojeda Rivera. 2000 – 2006.

Junta de Andalucía. Plan Andaluz de Investigación, Desarrollo e Innovación (PAIDI). Proyecto de excelencia sobre Archivo documental de percepciones y representaciones de paisajes andaluces. (P09-HUM-5382). I.P.: Dr. Ojeda Rivera, 2011-2015.

Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación. Proyecto de I+D+i sobre Las unidades básicas de paisaje agrario de España: Identificación, delimitación, caracterización y valoración. La España meridional andaluza. (CSO2009-12225-C05-05) (Subprograma GEOG). I.P.: Dr. Ojeda Rivera, 2009-2012.

Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación. Proyecto de I+D+i sobre Paisajes patrimoniales andaluces. (CSO2012-39564-C07-07). I .P.: Dra Silva Pérez, 2012-2015.

Ministerio de Educación y Cultura. Dirección General de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas. Proyecto de I+D sobre Propiedad, actividad agraria y ocio en los Parques Naturales de Sierra Morena. I.P.: Dr. Valle Buenestado (Universidad de Córdoba). 1998-2000.

Ministerio de Educación y Cultura. Proyecto de I+D+i sobre Los paisajes de la agricultura en España. Los paisajes de la España Atlántica, Interior y Meridional. (SEJ2006-15331-C02-01). I.P.: Dr. Molinero Hernando (Universidad de Valladolid). 2006-2009.


Received: 15 - 01 - 2013.
Accepted: 13 - 06 - 2013.