76 Chapters
Medium 9780253011428

2. Visualizing the Body Politic

Edited by Arijit Sen and Lisa Silverman Indiana University Press ePub


The concept of public space in modern political theory is remarkably impoverished. It largely ignores the material attributes of space—its architectonics and physical-sensorial dimensions that enable habitation—and the process of social production that creates the “publicness” of public space. Such imagination of public space is disembodied in keeping with the disembodied, abstract imagination of the modern state. When it does consider material attributes and the bodies of citizens at work in shaping public space, it assumes a particular delimited imagination of the Greek polis. Both ignore the possibilities of a political vernacular that might enable us to expand the imagination of public space and its attendant materiality.

“To be embodied,” writes James Mensch, “is to be physically situated.” By that logic it is also to “exclude other persons from the position that one occupies in viewing the world.”1 This produces a plurality of viewpoints that we must accommodate, because we are also “dependent” on others to inhabit this world. To be embodied is to be aware of the vulnerability of the flesh. An embodied understanding of politics and public space thus requires attention to the conditions of our physical situatedness in relation to other bodies and objects. It involves an understanding of our position in a given space, our movement and ability to access space, what we can see, hear, feel, and touch: our vulnerability as well as our capacity to manipulate and change the aforementioned conditions. These states of vulnerability and capacity that actualize our political freedom set the parameters of our relation to fellow subjects. These material conditions (and their limits) are the bases of our political subjectivity and enable our political imagination.

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Medium 9780253353627

1: Simplicity ~ Pristine Light

Henry Plummer Indiana University Press ePub



White-Painted Woodwork Meetinghouse (1820) Pleasant Hill, Kentucky


The radical simplification produced by a single exterior color, characteristic of Shaker architecture, serves to unite each form, while accentuating the play of light over a surface, enveloping the whole in a subdued atmosphere. These monochromatic effects, free of either visual friction or excitement, range from the absolute purity of a white meetinghouse, to the monotone crust of stone or brick around a dwelling, or continuous coat of yellow paint on a workshop.

White Limestone Façade First West Family Dwelling (1811–12) Pleasant Hill, Kentucky

Yellow-Painted Volume Brethren's Shop (1810) Hancock, Massachusetts


A spotless surface of smooth plaster and white paint serves to purify Shaker space. This image of perfection reveals the slightest sign of dirt, is devoid, one might even say absolved, of darkness, and is inherently ethereal, reduced to nothing but sheer light.

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Medium 9780253337566

Compositional Levels

Henry Glassie Indiana University Press ePub

Now the walls belong to a composition. Acts of composition bring interiors and exteriors together, massing and ornamenting buildings into units that contain diversity. Then composition expands, and meanings complicate, as buildings are set in relation, one to the other in space. While building walls, people perform on a complex field of influence, balancing the natural and the cultural. By weighing the influences of the natural environment against social and economic influences, we will have a way to begin a consideration of the expansive orders of composition.

It is hot on the vast, flat delta of Bengal, so hot that the climate must figure powerfully in architectural planning. At home in the village, cooking takes place outdoors in fair weather. The heat of the fire disperses, and the woman at work gains a touch of relief from the winds that find their way from the river. It is tropically hot, and it is wet. Rain is an insufficient name for the downpours of summer. In the rainy season, the fire for cooking is moved beneath a roof that is pitched steeply to shed the water. The roof is held aloft by impaled posts. Between the posts, bamboo screens make frail walls. Coolness comes in, the heat of the fire escapes.

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Vernacular Architecture

Henry Glassie Indiana University Press ePub

BUILDINGS, LIKE POEMS and rituals, realize culture. Their designers rationalize their actions differently. Some say they design and build as they do because it is the ancient way of their people and place. Others claim that their practice correctly manifests the universally valid laws of science. But all of them create out of the smallness of their own experience.

All architects are born into architectural environments that condition their notions of beauty and bodily comfort and social propriety. Before they have been burdened with knowledge about architecture, their eyes have seen, their fingers have touched, their minds have inquired into the wholeness of their scenes. They have begun collecting scraps of experience without regard to the segregation of facts by logical class. Released from the hug of pleasure and nurture, they have toddled into space, learning to dwell, to feel at home. Those first acts of occupation deposit a core of connection in the memory.

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Medium 9780253016706

4 Naming and Mapping the Depopulated Village Sites

Noga Kadman Indiana University Press ePub

What is the name of this place? A few years ago there was a place and it had a name. The place is lost and the name is lost. What is left? At first, a name torn out of a place. Soon, that, too, is erased. Neither place nor name. . . .

—S. Yizhar, “The Silence of the Villages,” Stories of a Plain

NAMING A PLACE and presenting it on a map is an acknowledgment of its presence in the landscape, its historical importance, and its cultural significance. Most of the sites of depopulated Palestinian villages were never granted an official name in Israel, even though the traces of many still remain in the landscape, and despite the Israeli pretension of naming any geographical object in sight, including ruins. Even where names were given to village sites, in most cases the Arab name was not recognized: if the Arab name preserved a biblical name, that earlier name was restored as the official name; in other cases, village sites were given Hebraized names, which usually ignored the content of the Arab names and the cultural world that they reflect. Sometimes the new names were even devoid of any meaning in Hebrew.

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