Landscape and nationhood: tradition and modernity in rural Wales, 1900-1950
thesisposted on 02.11.2010, 10:29 by Rolant Pyrs Gruffudd
This thesis examines different understandings of 'landscape' in Wales between 1900 and 1950, and the implications of these 'ways of seeing' for questions of nationhood and national identity. The bridge between these conceptual and political realms is the practice of rural planning as developed and applied in Wales. The Introduction sets the thesis in the context of work on national identity and the idea of landscape, and discusses the notion of modernity. It closes by outlining the understandings of landscape which run through the body of this thesis - landscape as 'scenery', 'environment' and 'territory'. Section One examines the evolution of planning in Wales. Chapter One identifies four individuals who represent themes of sustained importance in the development of this modernist discipline. All four were involved in the founding of the Council for the Preservation of Rural Wales (C.P.R.W.) in 1928. The C.P.R.W. is the focus of Chapter Two in which planning ideals and notions of scenic order are seen applied to the Welsh countryside. Consistent themes in the C.P.R.W.'s approach are identified, and their success is evaluated. Section Two addresses the work of others active in the study and planning of rural Wales, but from a perspective less concerned with the visual construct of landscape. Chapter Three examines the work of geographers and other academics, primarily in University College Aberystwyth, who constructed in their work a picture of rural Wales as a repository of both ancient artefacts and contemporary civilising values. Welsh history and society had, they argued, been shaped by its geography and environment. These academics' attempts to plan rural society according to their ideals is considered. Academic work informed the campaigns of the Welsh Nationalist Party, Plaid Cymru, which is discussed in Chapter Four. The nationalists echoed this reverence for rural Wales, seeing it as the fount of national character. The evolution of a political philosophy around this sociological and territorial concern is examined in detail. Section Three examines conflicts between these groups and their philosophies of landscape in response to large-scale State planning. Chapter Five discusses wartime land requisitioning and its perceived challenges to the scenic, social and political integrity of rural Wales. Nationalist concern for the sovereignty of Welsh land emerges as the profoundest issue. Chapter Six considers the role of Wales in post-war reconstruction, with particular reference to debates on the subject of tourism and the holiday trades. Conflicting views as to the use Wales should make of its rural resources become evident. In the Conclusion, the emergence of the main themes surrounding landscape in rural Wales are summarised, and it is argued that the three ways of seeing have merged to some extent. The implications of a greater concern for environment and territory in planning are analysed, and some suggestions offered as to the role the discipline of geography might play in the process of shaping new landscapes and environments.
- Social Sciences
- Geography and Environment