Making meaning of heritage landscapes (2013); Giving new meaning to religious conversion (2013)

A couple of recently published Canadian journal articles related to heritage preservation are of interest.

Many articles are accessible at no cost at The Canadian Geographer website.

Making meaning of heritage landscapes

The first article, by Lachlan B. Barber, is entitled Making meaning of heritage landscapes: The politics of redevelopment in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

[To access the article, click on link in previous sentence.]

The abstract – which I’ve broken into shorter paragraphs in place of one long one – reads:

This article investigates the production and maintenance of the heritage landscape in downtown Halifax, Nova Scotia. It argues that the unequal power relations that produced and were inscribed in the landscape historically continue to operate in the present. It does so by critically evaluating and contextualizing contestation over new high-rise construction on the streets below Citadel Hill.

Drawing on qualitative field work between 2005 and 2008, the article suggests that the meanings and values of heritage resources, such as views that served to protect the city, are not properly understood.

A spatialized historical account shows how the creation of the colonial city depended upon the marginalization of groups that were other to the British settlers.

A review of the establishment of the modern planning apparatus reveals a model of heritage interpretation that encourages an adversarial approach to the evaluation of proposals for new development.

The characteristics and aspirations of pro-development and pro-heritage groups are examined.

Finally, a case study of a controversial proposal to build a high-rise building in a prominent location is presented.

The article contributes to critical landscape studies by using a postcolonial approach to study the ideological underpinnings of built heritage in the Canadian context.

Giving new meaning to religious conversion

The second article, by Jason Hackworth and Erin Gullikson, is entitled Giving new meaning to religious conversion: Churches, redevelopment, and secularization in Toronto.

The abstract reads:

Research on secularization has increased in recent years, particularly amongst urban geographers. Yet the debate is still dominated by competing theories that generally fail to account for the many institutions that impede and facilitate religiosity on the urban landscape. This article is about the role that land use planning regulations have had on changes to the religious landscape in Toronto. The empirical focus is on former churches that have recently been converted to residential uses. The larger conceptual goal is to explore the extent to which these transitions affect the religious landscape in the city and to determine what they can tell us about broader processes of secularization.

[End of abstract. This abstract is relatively brief, for which reason I’ve kept it as one paragraph.]

Wesley Mimico United Church

I’ve written about the latter article in the context of church redevelopment projects in Toronto, a topic that interests me in the context of the unfolding story of the Wesley Mimico United Church redevelopment.

Paragraph structure

Academics would reach a wider audience if online academic texts were generally written using relatively short paragraphs.

Long paragraphs are fine if the reader has no choice but to read the material.

One of my formative experiences, between 1975 and 1980 when I worked as a freelance writer, was a stint as a ghostwriter for a Toronto Sun columnist, not many years after the Sun had been launched following the demise of the Toronto Telegram in 1971.

The first thing I learned was that a Toronto Sun reader, like any newspaper reader, has to be attracted to the text, and the journey through the text has to be made as easy as it can be.

Writing that is going to be accessible online needs to keep the same precepts in mind.

Both of the above-mentioned Canadian Geographer articles can be accessed online (see links above) as PDF versions. It is helpful that each article is laid out in two-column format, which enhances readability.

As well, if something can be said in everyday language and in less words, that enhances user-friendliness and the ability of urban geographers to reach a wider audience.


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