Synopses & Reviews
Ancient walls, barbed-wire walls, metaphorical walls, political walls: all form, reform, and dissect our world. They mark sacred space and embody earthly power. They maintain peace and cause war. They enforce difference and create unity. Walls are pervasive and potent, and for Thomas Oles, it is time to broaden our ideas of what they canand#151;and shouldand#151;do.and#160;
Inand#160;Walls, Oles asserts that our societies and our politics are shaped byand#151;and shapeand#151;the divisions we make in and among landscapes. He traces the rich array of social practices associated with walls and other boundary markers across history and prehistory, and he describes how, at the dawn of the modern era, these practices were pushed aside by new notions of sovereign rights and private property. The consequences of this change can be seen all around us. From nation to parcel, landscapes everywhere today are divided and subdivided by boundaries whose poor material is matched only by their moral ugliness. Oles shows that walls are relational, and all communities are defined both by and through them. The crafting of walls is therefore critical to defining our ethical relations to the landscape and to one another. In an insightful and evocative epilogue, Oles brings to life a society marked by productive and thoughtful relationships to its boundaries, one that will leave readers more hopeful about the divided landscapes of the future.
"From private gated communities to fenced national borders and from gerrymandered electoral districts to bounded fiscal spaces, we all live with (and against) barriers. This lively, brief, current, impressively comprehensive and theoretically as well as philosophically inclusive 'introduction' is much more than that - it's terrific coverage."--Harm de Blij, John A. Hannah Professor, Michigan State University
and#8220;Wallsand#160;is a wide-ranging, cogent, and penetrating analysis of walls and boundaries. There are very few books on walls of any sort and none with this sophistication. It is a pleasure to find an interdisciplinary mind at work in the center of the discipline of landscape architecture.and#8221;
andldquo;This insightful book unfolds a liminal poem by Robert Frost into a penetrating study of one of the most critical landscape phenomena of our time, the wall. This is a born classic concerned with the problem presented by the wall for the political, the cultural, and the designed landscape. The idea that the wall, once recovered, can not only enclose, but also create an opening into the world is both surprising and important.andrdquo;
and#8220;What would it be like to dwell in a world of wallsand#8212;a world where everything of consequence goes on in, on, along and through them rather than on the inside or on the outside? In this comprehensive cultural history of walls, fences, and hedges, from the first walled settlements of prehistory to futuristic scenarios for international borders, Thomas Oles shows that though such a world may seem strange to us, it is in fact the one we have always inhabited. This book reconstructs the wall where it belongs, no longer on the edge but at the center of human lived experience, political machination, and ethical concern. Cultural historians, human geographers, and landscape architects should prepare to have their worldviews turned inside out! and#8221;
andldquo;In this engrossing ethical study, landscape architect Oles ponders walls and their potential for oppression or human exchange. Drawing on rich historical examples such as Britainand#39;s economically and ecologically valuable hedgerows, Oles offers an ethics test for proposed barriers that questions whether they support commonalities or embed differences.andrdquo;
Compelling and accessible, this Very Short Introduction challenges the perception of borders as passive lines on a map, revealing them instead to be integral forces in the economic, social, political, and environmental processes that shape our lives. Highlighting the historical development and continued relevance of borders, Alexander Diener and Joshua Hagen offer a powerful counterpoint to the idea of an imminent borderless world, underscoring the impact borders have on a range of issues, such as economic development, inter- and intra-state conflict, global terrorism, migration, nationalism, international law, environmental sustainability, and natural resource management. Diener and Hagen demonstrate how and why borders have been, are currently, and will undoubtedly remain hot topics across the social sciences and in the global headlines for years to come. This compact volume will appeal to a broad, interdisciplinary audience of scholars and students, including geographers, political scientists, anthropologists, sociologists, historians, international relations and law experts, as well as lay readers interested in understanding current events.
This book about walls is genuinely exciting and alive with insights, elegance, rigor, style, and thoughtful humanism. It reveals and interrogates the social, political, and historical complexities of one of our most common landscape features, demonstrating how we misconstrue or fail to appreciate the nature and possibilities of physical boundaries. Oles shows that our societies and our politics are shaped by the nature and quality of the divisions we make on and among landscapes, and he interrogates practical, theoretical, and ethical aspects of our landscapes and the boundaries between them. This leads him into stark discussions of barriers such as the USand#150;Mexico border fence, Israeland#8217;s fortifications in the West Bank, and the kinds of residential barriers that define neighborhoods by their edges in communities worldwide, from Johannesburg to Levittown. Oles further locates counternarratives of walls, showing how people have lived in walls or used them in seemingly contradictory ways, letting permeability become a form of strength.
Stone walls, concrete walls, chain-link walls, border walls: we live in a world of walls. Walls mark sacred space and embody earthly power. They maintain peace and cause war. They enforce separation and create unity. They express identity and build community. Yard to nation, city to self, walls define and dissect our lives. And, for Thomas Oles, it is time to broaden our ideas of what they canand#151;and mustand#151;do.
In Walls, Oles shows how our minds and our politics are shaped byand#150;and shapeand#150;our divisions in the landscape. He traces the rich array of practices and meanings connected to the making and marking of boundaries across history and prehistory, and he describes how these practices have declined in recent centuries. The consequence, he argues, is all around us in the contemporary landscape, riven by walls shoddy in material and mean in spirit. Yet even today, Oles demonstrates, every wall remains potentially an opening, a stage, that critical place in the landscape where people present themselves and define their obligations to one another. In an evocative epilogue, Oles brings to life a society of productive, intentional, and ethical enclosureand#151;one that will leave readers more hopeful about the divided landscapes of the future.
About the Author
Thomas Olesand#160;is lecturer in landscape architecture at the University of Edinburgh. He has taught and practiced landscape architecture in the Netherlands, United Kingdom, and United States and is the author ofand#160;Go with Me: 50 Steps to Landscape Thinking.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: A Very Bordered World
Chapter 2: Borders and Territory in the Ancient World
Chapter 3: The Modern State System
Chapter 4: The Practice of Bordering
Chapter 5: Border Crossers and Border Crossings
Chapter 6: Cross-border Institutions and Systems
Chapter 7: A Very Bordered Future