Military Landscapes

Garden and Landscape Studies Symposium / Anatole Tchikine and John Davis, Symposiarchs

May 4 to 5, 2018

9:00 am to 5:30 pm (registration begins at 8:30 am)


Among various human interventions in landscape, war has left one of the most lasting and eloquent records, literally inscribed in the face of the earth. Military landscapes can assume different forms and functions: vertical, as the Great Wall of China, or horizontal, as the Federal Interstate Highway System; overground and geometrically controlled, as the earthworks of the Renaissance trace italienne, or sunken and disguised by local topography, as the trenches of World War I. They could be high-security sites, as the Pentagon, or tourist attractions, as Himeji Castle in Japan; curated, as the Gettysburg Battlefield, or neglected, as the outskirts of the Savannah River nuclear reservation site. In their most familiar form, they are national memorials as sites of remembrance and commemoration, which—as places where historical memory becomes translated into myth—continue to have powerful emotional, political, and cultural resonance.          

The Garden and Landscape Studies program at Dumbarton Oaks is planning a symposium, to be held on May 4–5, 2018, which aims to reevaluate the role of war as a fundamental form of human interaction with land and a decisive factor in the ongoing transformation of the natural environment. What are the challenges and theoretical implications of understanding military infrastructure as landscape from the disciplinary perspectives of cultural geography, architectural history, and environmental studies? And what is the role of the practice of landscape architecture in shaping, curating, and giving meaning to such landscapes?

Organizers - Anatole Tchikine, Dumbarton Oaks and John Davis, Harvard Graduate School of Design


Astrid Eckert, Emory University

Gert Gröning, Berlin University of the Arts

Kenneth Helphand, University of Oregon

John Dixon Hunt, University of Pennsylvania

Zhang Jie, Tsinghua University

Scott Kirsch, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Pamela McElwee, Rutgers University

Chandra Mukerji, University of California San Diego

Finola O’Kane Crimmins, University College Dublin

Antoine Picon, Harvard Graduate School of Design

Christine Ruane, University of Tulsa

Daniel Volmar, Harvard University

Henk Wildschut, Amsterdam

Joachim Wolschke-Bulmahn, Universität Hannover



Albrecht Dürer, Landscape with the cannon, 1518, courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art  (left)

View of the Gettysburg Battlefield, 2015, courtesy Anatole Tchikine (right)