Nina Toudal Jessen

Nina Toudal Jessen


My research circulates around questions of landscape changes, property rights, ownership, nature-culture relations and public administration.

My ph.d.-project investigated changing land uses and landscape perceptions in rural Denmark between 1870 and 2007. During this period, Danish landscape administration and management changed quite substantially, and I am interested in how these various types of administration and landscape representations have shaped the physical landscape.

As the majority of Danish soils are used for agricultural purposes, my project intersects environmental history and agricultural history. The two case studies cover two different sites in Western Zealand, and they work as examples of the administrative development, as well as examples of changing landscape perceptions.


The first case is a former gravel pit and waste dump, which now functions as a recreational site. For this study my attention has been directed towards decision-making at the local level; that is, who, when, and how did the locals decide on the alterations to the landscape through gravel extraction, waste dumping and “restoration” of the former hill. In this case, I examine farmers’ landscape perception in connection to the development of environmental regulation in Denmark in the 1970s. Added to this story is an analysis of how new national environmental policies physically influenced the hills and thus shaping the landscape.
My second case is a former inlet, Saltbæk Vig, which was reclaimed between 1866 and 1930. It was primarily drained for agricultural reasons, but most attempts at growing crops failed. Today the area is under the EU habitats directive, as well as protected under the Ramsar-convention. The wetland, waterfowl, and rare species are all consequences of the former land reclamation.
For this case study, I focus on the administration of the landscape, and on how landscapes change through the administration. The chapter therefore focuses on questions of scale in administration, possible conflicts between local use and international regulation.

To sum up, my project thus focused on the connections between land use, the administration of land, and landscape perceptions. Subthemes included questions of how representations work in administration of land, nature-culture understandings in relation to conservation plans, and lastly the relations between users and administrators. To reflect on these issues, I found inspiration in science and technology studies, cultural geography, as well as agricultural history.

Fields of interest

Environmental history, agricultural history, planning history, spatiality, landscape history, theories of materiality, science and technology studies

ID: 183206525