Christian Tagsold, Spaces in Translation: Japanese Gardens in the West (Philadelphia: Penn Press, 2017)
The committee loved this book because it used vernacular buildings and landscapes to develop a strong analysis of the translation, dissemination, and appropriation of the Japanese garden in the United States and elsewhere. Tagsold combines reflective and engaging writing, sensitive analysis of sites, a strong theoretical framework, and expansive definition of the vernacular to make a significant contribution to global architectural and landscape studies. He uses Latour’s idea of translational chains to wonderful effect, showing how the exportation of the Japanese garden type around the world has itself created a reflexive process in which the “ideal” garden constantly changes. What is more, since there was no such a thing as a single Japanese garden in the first place, the “ideal” garden is itself the product of its dissemination to the West. This is a book which transcends national fields of study and disciplinary boundaries to make a truly striking scholarly intervention, which nevertheless holds the principals of vernacular architecture study at its heart.