Routes and transects: Reading extended urbanization in alpine zones
Urbanization is rapidly extending to alpine zones across our planet. Many mountainous landscapes are now destinations for leisure and are being transformed by the fragmented development of infrastructure. What are the extended forms of urbanization in these mountains? How can we read the complex interplay of such forms under the pressure of tourism? Beyond reading from an aerial perspective, the author introduces an array of landscape-informed fieldwork methods based on travelling transects of multiscalar routes, represented through photography and cartography. The transects contribute to a more nuanced and holistic understanding of alpine landscapes, presented in the case study of Mount Gongga of the Hengduan Mountains. Included in global travel narratives of the twentieth century, this Chinese alpine zone has recently experienced a dramatic transformation, providing a territory for testing the methods and, furthermore, for raising a question: Could this landscape-informed perspective open up other ways of reading and strategies to adapt urbanization to alpine landscapes?