Recovering the wall : enclosure, ethics and the American landscape
Author(s)Oles, Brian Thomas.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Physics.
Anne Whiston Spirn.
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The modern world is marked by legal and political boundaries at all scales; the meeting of two territories is a condition so common as to escape notice in everyday life. Yet the nature of the relationship between these divisions and real things is rarely considered: a barrier at the edge of a territory is taken to embody legal, political, or social difference in simple and transparent ways. This assumption has profound implications for the material and social landscape. Beginning to question it, and suggesting practice in light of these questions, is the goal of this essay. The essay is divided into three parts. The first considers allotment in several ancient, medieval, and early modern societies. It argues that the practice of dividing land was marked over time by growing tensions between law and matter, and that the European settlement of North America was a quantitatively and qualitatively new stage in this process. The second chapter traces these tensions in the domestic and public landscapes of the United States since the nineteenth century, and argues that they present a practical challenge to design and building. The third chapter responds to this challenge. It returns to the wider geography of the first part to find examples of physical boundaries --'walls' -- that not only express territorial difference but stage an array of social and ecological interactions. These examples form the basis for re conceiving the marking of territory: for an ethics of enclosure in the modern landscape.
Thesis (Ph. D.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Physics, 2008.Includes bibliographical references (leaves 211-219).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Physics.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology