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Cover for Paradoxes of Green

Paradoxes of Green

Landscapes of a City-State

Gareth Doherty


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Other Editions of This Title:
Hardcover (2/7/2017)


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.

Praise For Paradoxes of Green: Landscapes of a City-State

"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."
— Environment and Urbanization

"Beautifully written." 
— Landscape Architecture Magazine

"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."
— The Nature of Cities

"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."
— The Dirt, uniting the built & natural environments

"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."
— Human Ecology

"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."
— Design and Culture

"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."
— Middle East Journal

"Paradoxes of Green is thoughtfully and accessibly written, and the author’s self-conscious allusions to the tradition of ethnographic fieldwork in classical anthropology gives the text a narrative dimension that was often found in the early decades of the discipline."
— City and Society

"With the title of Doherty’s book clearly identifying ‘green’ as its subject, it is no surprise that not just that particular colour – green – but colour generally is a theoretical underpinning of the book and potentially its most novel contribution."
— Landscape Review

University of California Press, 9780520285026, 216pp.

Publication Date: February 7, 2017

About the Author

Gareth Doherty is Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture and Director of the Master in Landscape Architecture program at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Doherty’s books include Roberto Burle Marx Lectures: Landscape as Art and Urbanism. He is co-editor of Is Landscape…? Essays on the Identity of Landscape with Charles Waldheim and, with Mohsen Mostafavi, Ecological Urbanism. Doherty is a founding editor of the New Geographies journal and editor-in-chief of New Geographies 3: Urbanisms of Color.