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This innovative multidisciplinary study considers the concept of green from multiple perspectives—aesthetic, architectural, environmental, political, and social—in the Kingdom of Bahrain, where green has a long and deep history of appearing cooling, productive, and prosperous—a radical contrast to the hot and hostile desert. Although green is often celebrated in cities as a counter to gray urban environments, green has not always been good for cities. Similarly, manifestation of the color green in arid urban environments is often in direct conflict with the practice of green from an environmental point of view. This paradox is at the heart of the book. In arid environments such as Bahrain, the contradiction becomes extreme and even unsustainable.
Based on long-term ethnographic fieldwork, Gareth Doherty explores the landscapes of Bahrain, where green represents a plethora of implicit human values and exists in dialectical tension with other culturally and environmentally significant colors and hues. Explicit in his book is the argument that concepts of color and object are mutually defining and thus a discussion about green becomes a discussion about the creation of space and place.
Gareth Doherty is Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture and Senior Research Associate at Harvard University Graduate School of Design. He is coeditor of Is Landscape…? Essays on the Identity of Landscape and Ecological Urbanism. He is a founding editor of the journal New Geographies and editor-in-chief of New Geographies 3: Urbanisms of Color.
"Doherty is as comfortable reflecting on the aesthetic aspects of colour as he is describing the ecological implications of property development. . . the portrait Doherty paints is of a fascinating, quickly changing, and – yes – paradoxical place."
"The use of color in this book to build an ethnographic window into the country is enormously compelling, thought provoking and enlightening. A fascinating read and a call for much greater care in assuming greater greening translates to greater urban sustainability."
"Paradoxes of Green: Landscapes of a City-State . . . is a successful hybrid of landscape writing and ethnography focused on the island nation of Bahrain. It presents a portrait of Bahrainis’ rich and evolving relationship with their landscape as well as a model for future studies."
"These qualms aside, Paradoxes of Green is a thoughtful contribution to the developing design anthropology literature, highlighting the at-times divergent meanings of a colour, exploring the networks that support it, and demonstrating the capacity for ethnography to provide a layered account of these complexities. Moreover, this book is a unique discussion of Bahraini history and a detailed account of the ways in which literal greening is a troubled substitute for ecologically sensitive development."
"Despite the colorful history and identity of landscapes – whether the Irish countryside, American agrarian plains, or Persian Gulf deserts – color, and by extension actionable anthropological methods, has been conspicuously absent from recent discourse in the built environment. Paradoxes of Green offers a fresh perspective."
"This work should be considered a major achievement for its exploration of the diverse landscapes of Bahrain and their continuous production and transformation, presented in an accessible manner which nevertheless does not reduce its challenging complexity."