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The Square: A Political Anthropology of the Built Environment

By Michael Dutton


Beginning in Tian'anmen Square at dawn, this paper traces the political cosmologies of China through the built environment of Beijing. The diagnostic value of the built environment is revealed in its ability to help us navigate through the history of various political cosmologies that have informed the building and rebuilding of this city. From dynastic times when Celestial power was driven by the flow of 'qi' though the 'toppling' of the city axis and the imposition of another socialist cosmology and then onto the phantasmagoric showpieces of the economic miracle, the built environment becomes an archeological site of politics, revealing a way of seeing politics that is ethnographic and concerned with the everyday

Year: 2010
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