The city as text : the politics of landscape interpretation in the Kandyan kingdom


The city as text : the politics of landscape interpretation in the Kandyan kingdom

James S. Duncan

(Cambridge human geography)

Cambridge University Press, 1990

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Bibliography: p. 206-225

Includes index



In this book James Duncan convincingly argues that landscapes are not only culturally produced, but that they also influence governing ideas of political and religious life. He analyzes this dialectic relationship between landscape and the pursuit of power in the royal capital of Kandy in the central highlands of Sri Lanka during the early years of the nineteenth century and demonstrates how the Kandyan landscape was consciously produced to further the perceived interests of the Kandyan kings. Using extensive archival sources, architectural analysis and mapping, the author reveals how the landscape was designed to foster a certain hegemonic reading that spoke of the power, benevolence and legitimacy of the kings in their capital.


  • List of figures
  • Preface
  • Glossary of terms
  • A note on transliteration
  • Part I. Introduction: 1. Introduction
  • Part II. Towards an Interpretive Frame: 2. Landscape as a signifying system
  • 3. The discursive field of Kandyan kingship
  • 4. Concretizing the Sakran discourse: from landscape of the gods to landscape of the hero-kings
  • 5. The Kandyan landscape, 1312-1815
  • Part III. The Politics of Landscape Interpretation in Early-Nineteenth-Century Kandy: 6. From discourse to landscape: a kingly reading
  • 7. From landscape to civic ritual: a kingly reading
  • 8. From landscape to discourse: contestatory readings and material interests
  • 9. Conclusion
  • Appendix
  • Notes
  • List of references
  • Index.

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