Community-based Mixed Method Research to Understand Rapidly Changing Cultural Landscapes

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Virginia Tech


Tangible and intangible heritage values of cultural landscapes are becoming lost or transforming under the threat of rapidly changing landscapes. Researcher-oriented documenting methods are missing significant meanings of landscapes for local communities. Community-based methods can reveal both tangible and intangible heritage of landscapes without missing important values for local communities.

This dissertation study proposed a community-based mixed method research to reveal and document cultural heritage or other values from the perspective of local community members in the case study area of Findikli in Rize/Turkey. Findikli's cultural landscape is under the threat of rapidly changing landscape due to newly introduced agriculture practice - tea production. To reveal lost or transformed tangible and intangible heritage meanings of the Findikli's cultural landscape, multiple community-based research methods were used for collecting data from local residents as well as those with family or community connections to the area. Community workshops, individual and group interviews, and surveys gathered information on the social and cultural relationships, as well as locations of past and present agricultural activities, land uses and built structures. Analysis of family and community photographs and aerial imagery, as well as community produced land use and cognitive maps helped place these in spatial relationship to the landscape.

Results of this dissertation study made contributions to case study area with a rich archive of Findikli's traditional tangible and intangible landscape elements, and to cultural landscape studies with a method of discovering traditional cultural heritage and landscape values under the threat of change and a guidance to document them with the community-based methods to increase quality and quantity of information.



cultural landscape, community-based research, mixed methodology, landscape change, documentation