Synopses & Reviews
In Louis XIV's France, land took on new importance in politics and court life. A sequestered aristocracy promenaded in formal gardens while the military moved across the landscape, marking state boundaries with fortresses and refiguring the interior with canals and forests. Chandra Mukerji highlights the connections between the seemingly disparate activities of engineering and garden design, showing how the gardens at Versailles showcased French skills in using nature and art to design a distinctively French landscape and create a naturalized political territoriality.
"This is a masterful deconstructionist study, in which careful contextual analysis allows for reconstruction of the political world that Louis created over the course of his reign....a major accomplishment." Choice"...brilliant and beautifully presented..." Robert Forster, Jrnl of Interdisciplinary History"Territorial Ambitions should be of interest not only to social theorists but also to others intersted in exploring relations between people and the built environment, as builders and as inhabitants." Lisa A. Pellerin, Contemporary Sociology"What is territorial policy, and does it have a history? Chandra Mukerji makes a bold effort to pose and answer these questions..." Josef W. Konvitz, American Historical Review"Territorial Ambitions is provocative, original, and striking for the sophistication of its argument, its breadth of evidence, and its novelty of associations." Claudia Lazzaro, Technology and Culture"In a marvelously well-illustrated book, based on an impressive mastery of technical literatures on everything from fountain building to tapestry weaving, Mukerji reveals the many different ways in which the gardens served as arenas for Louis XIV's ambitious attempts to remake his state." David S. Bell, American Journal of Sociology"Territorial Ambitions is probably the most ambitious and original study of seventeenth-century France in the service of a sociological argument to be published since Norbert Elias's book on the court society." Peter Burke, Journal of Modern History
Cultural/historical sociologist links design and engineering at Versailles to displays of state power.
Chandra Mukerji challenges the association of state power with socials structures alone in a fascinating cultural analysis of how Louis XIV used Versailles to equate lawlike land control with the order of nature, showcasing distinctively French skills and design in a formal paralleling of military feats of engineering.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 369-382) and index.
Table of Contents
List of illustrations; Acknowledgements; Glossary of French terms; 1. The culture of land and the territorial state; 2. Military ambitions and territorial gardens; 3. Material innovation and cultural identity; 4. Techniques of material mobilization; 5. Social choreography and the politics of place; 6. Naturalizing power in the new state; 7. A history of material power; Notes; References; Index.