Enclosure and Ethics in the Modern Landscape

Thomas Oles

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Thomas Oles

232 pages | 40 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2014
Cloth $45.00 ISBN: 9780226199245 Will Publish December 2014
E-book $36.00 ISBN: 9780226199382 Will Publish December 2014
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 can—and should—do. 

In Walls, Oles asserts that our societies and our politics are shaped by—and shape—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.
John Stilgoe | Harvard University
Walls 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.”
Kenneth Olwig, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
“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.”
Timothy Ingold, University of Aberdeen
“What would it be like to dwell in a world of walls—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! ”
For more information, or to order this book, please visit http://www.press.uchicago.edu
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