Maastiku ja kultuuri keskus

The working group of the Tallinn University Centre for Landscape and Culture aims at progressing landscape theory, problem-solving approaches and contributions to landscape and management and planning. The goal is to facilitate both the application of landscape research to practice, and the feedback from practice into research.

We contribute to the following fields of research:

  1. Combining the models of phenomenological and semiotic meaning making and applying it to landscape theory. 
  2. Introducing cultural heritage and the meaning making of heritage into landscape research. 
  3. Time layers and transitions between the layers – the interplay of changes and persistence. 
  4. Boundaries in the context of rural-urban interface – how much the past is known, conceptualised and appreciated. Often the practices of the previous are carried on into the new situation, and the link with the place becomes important. The concept linking all landscape practices is adaptation.
  5. Cultural sustainability – either the fourth pillar of sustainability or an overarching concept that covers the three other pillars – studies may lead to better understanding of the role culture plays in landscape and vice versa. The working group has been working on developing a broad understanding of rupture as a strategic opening on the study of complex interactions between landscape, value, history, identity and social life. The aim has been to question established theories regarding the relationship between social change and landscape change.

The Centre for Landscape and Culture hosts the CLUster on Bordering (CLUB) that brings together researchers at Tallinn University interested in developments and debates on borders, bordering and borderlands.  


Hannes Palang, Head of the Centre

PostiaadressUus-Sadama 5, 10120 Tallinn

Telefon(+372) 640 9557


Current Projects

Baltic Sea2Land: Fostering integrated governance for the joint sustainable use of human and natural capital in the near shore zone

Tarmo Pikner

The complexity of land-sea interactions (LSI) and overlapping jurisdictions of various public authorities calls for multi-level governance (MLG) to balance different interests and drivers in coastal areas in order to achieve European Green Deal (EGD) goals and Sustainable Blue Economy (SBE). MLG is needed for integrated planning to consider coastal communities, culture, environmental and economic interests. Integrated planning is often obstructed by unbalanced voices of different sectors and stakeholders, overlapping jurisdictions of various authorities, complexity of LSI, inefficient coordination and non-collaboration. Public authorities together with SBE sectors can be compared to a Greek ship (trireme) with the many stakeholders acting as the ship crew – rowers operating oars, deck crew dealing with sails and helmsman steering the ship – each with their own task. Somehow they all need to work together to avoid crashing and to navigate to their intended destination. Thus, there should be a guiding system for our ship – a navigator. In our project we will create a solution based on previous project results – the Sea2Land Navigator – a tailored guidance and decision making-supporting platform for public authorities and SBE stakeholders. The Sea2Land Navigator will help balance interests to aid viable coastal development and sustainable use of human and natural capital in the Baltic Sea Region (BSR) and foster integrated governance via multi-dimensional collaborations.

The action is supported by the Interreg Baltic Sea Region Programme 2021–2027 – through the Subsidy contract for the project #C018 Baltic Sea2Land of Interreg Baltic Sea Region.

Read more here

Baltic Sea2 logo

Landscape approach to rurbanity 

Hannes Palang

This project seeks to assess enacted and experienced rural-urban differences and coexistences by elaborating landscape approach. This is studied through mobility practices, bordering dynamics and encounters with the past. Practices of mobilities constitute an understanding of the relationship with the world where instead of stasis and stability, mobility and the potential mobility are central. Encounters with the past deals with how third generation urbanites manage the rural heritage, both material and mental, in towns and in the countriside. Finally, landscape approach contributes in analysing interdependences and tensions between rurality and urbanity. The three sub-themes of the project include landscapes of dispersed communities, walking in landscape / landscapes as playground, spatiality of institutional bordering.

Finished Projects

Land-sea interactions advancing BlueGrowth in Baltic Sea coastal areas 

Hannes Palang

EU and Baltic Sea Regional (BSR) policies highlight the importance of Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP), BlueGrowth (BG) and sustainable management of coastal areas. BGcan help to tackle development challenges in coastal areas like reduced fishing, depopulation and human impacts on environment.Coastal municipalities and regions in BSR seek for economic diversification and more efficient use of available marine natural and cultural resources. MSPis established as an effective tool to foster integrated planning in marine areas, while coherence with land-based development planning is still recognised as a key challenge and at the same time – precondition for BG. This COHERENCE problem is especially relevant when a new development activity depends on or influences other uses and interests in the sea or on land, thus creating a conflict or limiting growth. Another challenge for authorities is to define characteristics of SPATIAL (local, regional, etc.) scales and TEMPORAL (short, middle, long term) perspectives of the land-sea interactions (LSI) and to propose solutions. While MSP mainly focuses on a large scale and long-term perspectives, LSI are often addressed locallyand on ad hoc basis.

INTEGRATION versus THEMATIC and SECTORAL approaches in planning needs to be enhanced to achieve the objectives of BG. Relationships and interdependencies between marine ecosystems, landscapes, social and cultural values and economic sectors are recognised, however not fully taken into account in the context of LSI.
This project will guide national public bodies (ministries, agencies), coastal regional authorities and local municipalities and multi-sectoral stakeholders to:
*improve transnational cooperation and foster BG and facilitate knowledge exchange to empower less developed regions;
*raise capacity (awareness, knowledge and skills) to enhance BlueGrowth initiatives and integrated development in coastal areas;
*balance development of newsea uses with coastal community interests by improving inter-scalar and cross-sectoral coastal governance in all BSR.
Through demonstration cases on the identified LSI challenges the project partners and involved stakeholders will closely collaborate to explore and recommend newflexible coastal governance practices with main scope on proposing spatial and entrepreneurship tailored solutions to be applicable on each governance level in all BSR countries. We will apply a range of methods with strong focus on participatory and transdisciplinary approaches to tackle the described challenges of local, regional and transnational relevance. Therefore, the coastal planning authorities and developers of BG initiatives in the BSR region will have gained additional knowledge and skills to solve common LSI challenges. The projectwork will culminate with an outcome of new Multi-level Governance Agenda on BlueGrowth and Spatial Planning in BSR beyond 2020. 

Public transport as public space in European cities: Narrating, experiencing, contesting

Tauri Tuvikene

This humanities-focused project conceptualises public transport (PT) as public space: one which confronts citizens with social diversity, speaks of different types of ownership, disciplining and surveillance, subversion, interaction and remaking of social norms. This conceptualisation is articulated through four objectives: (1) to critically conceptualise and analyse what kind of public space PT is; (2) to understand urban transformations—the increasing social diversity and polarisation, liberalisation, privatisation and securitisation—of public space in European cities by attending to PT as one of the most intense and contentious public spaces; (3) to offer a located and historicised perspective on the transformation of public space by examining narratives, experiences and contestations over PT in different European cities; and (4) to contribute to PT-related research, as well as interventions in civic mobilising, planning and policy by a humanities-led analysis and conceptualisation of PT. The project brings researchers from across Europe together with practitioners and enthusiasts, and profits from a strong involvement of Associated Partners. Through this approach the project aims to produce an academic and societal impact: to humanise public transport research and practice.

The political economy of industrial health and safety: a social anthropology perspective

Eeva Kesküla

The project asks why industrial accidents and injuries happen and how they are socially produced. It proposes a social anthropology approach to the study of links between Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) and industrial injury in mining. The project draws on political economy perspective assuming that OHS is never neutral but socially and historically constructed in the struggle between capital and labour. It takes a step further by suggesting that the focus should not be only on the labour process but the wider relations and world views of communities and corporations and the political-economy frame should be complemented by the study of everyday practices. New methodologies drawing on medical anthropology and study of trauma will be developed in order to study the sensitive topic. The research will use participant observation, survey and interviewing in a comparative study of two mines in Estonia and Kazakhstan to explore the social production of OHS and injuries.

Cultural change and conflict: A theoretical model

Rein Raud

The goal of this project is to develop a model of cultural changes and conflicts, based on the methodology introduced in my book "Meaning in Action: Outline of an Integral Theory of Culture". As a result of globalization, many essentially positive processes such as democratization, decolonization, infotechnological progress etc. have jointly brought about an overflow of information. The institutions meant to handle it, however, are unable to cope with the situation. On the other hand, the growing inequality and insecurity that has been caused by current economic and political developments as well as ecological problems have set in motion large flows of migration and simultaneously inspired an upsurge of xenophobia and nationalism in many parts of the “first world”. These issues cannot be adequately analyzed only in terms of social processes, which is why I intend to develop a model that examines them in the context of the internal dynamics of the cultural field.

Read more here