In this book we present an account of the changing landscape and the cul-

tural and political significance of Vientiane, Laos, from its emergence as an urban centre (dating from at least the thirteenth century) to the present.

Although we necessarily rely on a wide range of documentary sources in

this endeavour, we use the landscape itself – both physical and imagined –

as our principal register, treating it as a form of text (albeit partial and

fragmented) through which we might read key features of Lao geo-political

history, the nature of Lao urbanism, and the critical relation of this urban-

ism to constructions of Lao identity in the past and also the present.