Gareth Doherty’s “Paradoxes of Green” among ASLA/The Dirt’s Best Books of 2017

The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) and its blog, “The Dirt,” named a book by the Harvard Graduate School of Design’s Gareth Doherty (DDes ’10) among its top 10 books of 2017—”our picks for the best on the environment, cities, and landscape,” writes “The Dirt.”

Doherty’s book Paradoxes of Green: Landscapes of a City-State (University of California Press, February 2017) considers the concept of “green,” as engaged and practiced in the Kingdom of Bahrain, from multiple disciplinary perspectives. As Doherty explains, “green” has a long and deep history in Bahrain of appearing cooling, productive, and prosperous, a contrast to the hot and sometimes hostile desert. Although “green” is often celebrated today as a counter to gray, urban environments, the concept of “green” has not always been good for cities, Doherty continues.


Gareth Doherty, author of “Paradoxes of Green”

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. In order words, “green” represents a plethora of implicit human values and, in Bahrain, exists in dialectical tension with other culturally and environmentally significant colors and hues.

This paradox is at the heart of Doherty’s book. To explore it, Doherty drew from long-term enthnographic fieldwork, investigating the landscapes of Bahrain. One key takeaway: concepts of color and object are mutually defining, and thus, a discussion of “green” becomes a discussion about the creation of space and place.

“The Dirt” praised Paradoxes of Green as “a successful hybrid of landscape writing and ethnography focused on the island nation of Bahrain,” noting that it “presents a portrait of Bahrainis’ rich and evolving relationship with their landscape as well as a model for future studies.” Read the full review on the ASLA’s website.

In December, Doherty delivered a Landscape Architecture Magazine (LAM) Lecture entitled “Landscapes as Chromatic Relationships” in which he discussed Paradoxes of Green as well as an upcoming publication. Watch a recording.

At the GSD, Doherty is assistant professor of landscape architecture, senior research associate, and Director of the Master in Landscape Architecture program. His research and teaching focus on the intersections between landscape architecture, urbanism, and anthropology. Previous publications include Is Landscape…? Essays on the Identity of Landscape, edited with Charles Waldheim (Routledge, 2016); and Ecological Urbanism, edited with Mohsen Mostafavi (Lars Müller Publishers, 2010, and revised in 2016), which has been translated into Chinese, Spanish, and Portuguese, with Arabic and Persian editions in process. Doherty is also a founding editor of the GSD’s New Geographies journal and editor-in-chief of New Geographies 3: Urbanisms of Color.

Paradoxes of Green is available online at 30 percent off with source code 16M4197.