Political Landscapes of Capital Cities

by Jessica Joyce ChristieJelena BogdanovićEulogio Guzmán

“A truly unique and much needed contribution. . . . In exposing various forms of spatial transformation induced by politics and ideology across time and diverse geographies, the book argues for the multifaceted social productions of space both as a historical norm and as contemporarily relevant.”

—Igor Marjanović, Sam Fox School, Washington University in St. Louis

"​[Political Landscapes of Capital Cities] is a welcome contribution to the study of the spatialization of society and suggests paths that anthropologists can take to analyze political space in urban and non-urban settings alike."

—Anthropology Review Database

"[E]ngaging and interdisciplinary. . . . an important contribution to our understanding of the historical roles that space and politics play in determining the shape and memory of capital cities throughout the world. Humanists will appreciate the methodological rigor that the contributors employ in their approaches to this cohesive theme. Summing Up: Highly recommended."


​"[O]utstanding contributions of an interdisciplinary group of authors trained in different methodologies. . . . offer[s]​ both scholarly and popula​r ​audiences wide-ranging perspectives in exploring, imagining, perceiving and experiencing capital cities.​"​

—Journal of Urban Cultural Studies

“This attached discourse helped deliver and gather people around a powerful, meaningful message that engages and motivates the masse, an essential element in power creation. . . remarkable collection of essays.”

—studies in History & Theory of Architecture

“This volume is an excellent introduction to the consideration of the complex and recursive interrelationships of the built and natural worlds seen through the lens of human power—issues that humans have been grappling with for thousands of years”

—American Journal of Archaeology

Political Landscapes of Capital Cities investigates the processes of transformation of the natural landscape into the culturally constructed and ideologically defined political environments of capital cities. In this spatially inclusive, socially dynamic interpretation, an interdisciplinary group of authors including archaeologists, anthropologists, and art historians uses the methodology put forth in Adam T. Smith’s The Political Landscape: Constellations of Authority in Early Complex Polities to expose the intimate associations between human-made environments and the natural landscape that accommodate the sociopolitical needs of governmental authority.

Political Landscapes of Capital Cities blends the historical, political, and cultural narratives of capital cities such as Bangkok, Cusco, Rome, and Tehran with a careful visual analysis, hinging on the methodological tools of not only architectural and urban design but also cultural, historiographical, and anthropological studies. The collection provides further ways to conceive of how processes of urbanization, monumentalization, ritualization, naturalization, and unification affected capitals differently without losing grasp of local distinctive architectural and spatial features. The essays also articulate the many complex political and ideological agendas of a diverse set of sovereign entities that planned, constructed, displayed, and performed their societal ideals in the spaces of their capitals, ultimately confirming that political authority is profoundly spatial.

Contributors: Jelena Bogdanović, Jessica Joyce Christie, Talinn Grigor, Eulogio Guzmán, Gregor Kalas, Stephanie Pilat, Melody Rod-ari, Anne Parmly Toxey, Alexei Vranich




  • publisher
    University Press of Colorado
  • publisher place
    Denver, Colorado
  • rights
  • rights holder
    University Press of Colorado