SEAARC Symposium Abstract 24: Multicultural Spaces: Dynamics on Indonesian Architectural Histories As the Case

By Prof. Kemas Ridwan Kurniawan, Universitas Indonesia

This presentation tries to elaborate the phenomena of spatial dynamics (negotiation, adaptation, contestation) on Indonesian Architectural Histories from socio-political and cultural perspectives. It will try to look at this phenomena from the conjuncture of ‘Third Space’ (from Homi K. Bhabha, a postcolonial critics) and ‘Thirdspace’ (from Edward Soja, a postmodern political geographer and urban planner) to ‘Multicultural Spaces’ (one of the critics from Leonie Sandercock, a multicultural urban planner). Soja’s ‘Thirdspace’ (1996), besides influenced by some key cultural theories included Bhabha’s theory of colonial and postcolonial cultures (1994), also developed from Henri Lefebvre’s (a French Hegelian Marxist urban sociologist) concept of Production of ‘Social’ Space (1974) and ‘Everydaylife’. Moreover, Leonie Sandercock’s ‘Towards Cosmopolis’ (1998) and ‘Making the Invisible Visible’ (1998) criticized the modern urban planning histories which ignored marginal communities existences. Moreover, Hardt and Negri’s War and Democracy in the Age of Empire (2004) brings up the concept of third space through multitudious perspectives which approach multicultural spaces through hidden networks of spatial multiplicities of war.

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SEAARC Symposium Abstract 23: “Architectural Revitalization in Post-Earthquake Yogyakarta”

by Mr. Punto Wijayanto, Indonesian Heritage Trust

In 1992, Indonesia passed the law on Benda Cagar Budaya (Cultural Heritage Preservation), which protects artifacts with historical, scientific and cultural value. Heritage groups, however, question the Indonesian government’s concern with only the conservation of monumental architecture. In 2003, the Indonesian Heritage Society, an umbrella organization of various heritage organizations, published “Indonesia Charter for Heritage Conservation”. According to this charter, the heritage of Indonesia is the legacy of nature, culture, and saujana, the weaving of the two. This paper focuses on how heritage organizations implemented the Indonesia Charter and developed frameworks on architecture and built environment as heritage. Observations will be made on the post-Earthquake conservation projects in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. 

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The (ab)use of Foucauldian Analytics of Power in Architectural History

One of the themes of the forthcoming SEAARC Symposium is on “Space, Society and Power”. In the Call for Papers, we argue that scholars of architectural history in general might have over-relied on formal analysis in their understanding of power and architecture, which in turn led to too easy a correlation between the effect of power with formal qualities. We suggest that there might be other theories and methods that provide more sophisticated ways of understanding the complex relationship between architecture and power. One of the many theories and methods invoked was the Foucauldian analytics of power.

Interestingly, two participants of the symposium have published two short pieces in ABE Journal: European Architecture beyond Europe on the use of Foucauldian analytics of power in colonial architectural history that might be of interest to readers of this blog. The first piece is a very eloquent critique of Foucauldian theories by keynote speaker Prof. Mark Crinson. For what it is worth, my response to Prof. Crinson’s critique is available here (academia.edu) and here (direct link to the open access journal).

 

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SEAARC Symposium Abstract 22: “Cities within Buildings: The Private Housing Complex and the Contingent Public, c.1960s”

by Dr. Eunice Seng, The University of Hong Kong

This paper is based on ongoing comparative research on the high-rise high-density composite building – a large private housing complex often the size of a city block – that emerged in Hong Kong and Singapore in the 1960s. The composite building is inextricably intertwined in the geopolitics of urban transformation and a vital component of a larger network of ideas and discourses. In mapping the impetus behind and agencies involved in the construction of the composite building, this paper contends that during the period of zoning and legal ambiguities, there exists maximum potential in the intermixing of multiple publics and entities, planned and unplanned. To what extent does it embody the paradox of a model for social integration within a development schema? An examination of the composite building in the two post-colonial cities reveals the contingent status of the occupants and of the citizenry at large, which comprised a predominantly Chinese diaspora.

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Job opening in Architectural History, Theory and Criticism at NUS

The Department of Architecture at the National University of Singapore has an opening for a position in Architectural History, Theory and Criticism. Please see the job posting from the official website below:

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SEAARC Symposium Abstract 21: “Heritage in Asian Cities Undergoing Rapid Transformation”

by Keynote speaker Prof. William Logan, Deakin University

In this paper Professor Logan comments on some of the theoretical, methodological and ethical challenges met during his 30 years of heritage work in Asia, mostly Southeast Asia, as researcher and teacher, UNESCO and ICOMOS consultant and government advisor. The paper focuses on cities undergoing dramatic political, economic and social changes and the role that heritage can play and, indeed, has played and continues to play in such situations. Two case studies are used, starting with Hanoi, the capital of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, where national and international efforts to protect the city’s built heritage emerged in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Twenty-five years later another Southeast Asian country—Myanmar (Burma)—is beginning to follow in Hanoi’s steps with perhaps even more rapid and fundamental transformation for the nation, its people and cities. There are some early indications that the changes taking place in Myanmar will parallel those faced in Vietnam when it, too, came out of a period of intense isolation and opened up to global investment, tourism and intellectual influences. One of the similarities seems to be the growing awareness and use of cultural heritage as a political, economic and social asset. In all states, capital cities are pivotal in the transformative processes and governments make use of heritage as part of nation-building strategies. While Yangon‘s status as capital city was lost with the establishment of Naypyidaw in November 2005, it is still the largest city in terms of population, trade, cultural activities and, for most Burmans, emotional attachment. Other important political and cultural differences between the two cities and their national contexts are noted and questions are asked about what Yangon might learn from the Vietnamese transformation experience. From this two-city comparative analysis the question arises whether there are useful generalisations about the production and use of heritage in rapidly changing cities that can be made for the Southeast Asian region, or at the larger scale the Asia-Pacific region or even globally. Do the experiences of Hanoi and Yangon reinforce the view that there are uniquely Asian ways of understanding and managing heritage? Other cities in which the author has worked, including China’s Lijiang and Japan’s Nara, will be drawn into his exploration of this issue.

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SEAARC Symposium Abstract 20: “Beyond Styles and Isolation: Towards the next step of a Historiography of Modern Architecture in Thailand as a part of Southeast Asia”

by Dr. Chomchon Fusinpaiboon, Chulalongkorn University

This paper provides a thorough survey of how the historiography of modern architecture in Thailand has been developed.   It discusses the unique circumstances, namely the economic boom and a concern about national identity in architecture, that ignited the need of what might be considered a history of modern architecture in Thailand during the 1980s and 1990s.   It also demonstrates how these circumstances, when combined with a Euro-centric perspective, the notion of style, and an unclear acknowledgement of modernity’s relation to architecture of the country, have formed the discipline and limitations of the conventional research studies in the field.   It then examines how postcolonial theories, previously unpopular and seldom explicitly used in Thai studies because Thailand was not colonised by any western power, might benefit the research about modern architecture in the country.   Following that, this paper provides a review of recent scholarship on the relationship between architecture and modernity in Thailand to show the current stage of critical research on the topic.   Finally, it suggests research topics that are worth exploring in the future in order to broaden the understanding of modern architecture in Thailand as a part of Southeast Asia.   These are post-war architecture and architectural culture of Thailand, modern architecture in the ‘regions’ of the country, and modern architecture at the ‘borders’ between Thailand and neighbouring countries.

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SEAARC Symposium Abstract 19: “Women’s Prayer Space: A Feminist Critique on the Southeast Asian Islamic Architectural History”

by Dr. Tutin Aryanti, Indonesia University of Education

Studies on the Southeast Asian mosque architecture have primarily focused on sultanate mosques. Primarily formalistic and stylistic, the studies have regarded the history of Islamic architecture as a history of male patronage of works that we recognize as masterpieces. These studies are valuable in the way that they focus on the local formal idioms as a product of cultural hybridization in colonial Southeast Asia, a political tool in postcolonial region, and an important instrument for princely patrons in the process of the nation’s identity formation. However, they have typically ignored vernacular buildings, built by common people and non-princely patrons, as well as women and other minor groups and not regarded them as the actors of history or builders of architecture. They leave an important area of meaning unexamined: the interaction between the space and the user and how architecture has served as a social-political space that shapes user’s relations.

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SEAARC Symposium Abstract 18: “‘Manila Beautiful:’ Urban Hygiene and Colonial Architecture in Age of American Imperialism (1898-1942)”

by Prof. Gerard Lico, University of the Philippines, Diliman

Enlightened by rationality of the science of tropical medicine, the American colonial sanitarians in the Philippines saw themselves as benevolent hygienic reformers, bringing the gospel of cleanliness to ignorant Filipinos whose bodies they saw as reservoirs for pathogens acquired from filthy habits and customs. These suspect bodies would be the subject of biopolitical strategies of surveillance, allowing the colonial state to deeply infiltrate the intimate detail of everyday spatial practices. The creation of a colonial city necessitated not only the physical intervention of the colonial environment, but also the mobilization of sanitary surveillance of the colonial bodies via the lens of imperial medicine, so that new spatial forms and architectural models could be prescribed as spatial prophylaxis guaranteeing the survival of white men in an esoteric colonial ecology.

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SEAARC Symposium Abstract 17: “In serving Chinese Modernity: The Rise and Fall of Singaporean Architecture in Contemporary China 1980 – 2000”

by Dr. Xiao Jing, City University of Hong Kong

This paper examines the Chinese government’s brief period of acquiring architectural modernity from Singapore during the last two decades of twentieth century in order to contribute to its own national identity. Behind China’s contemporary architecture was a political aspiration for modernity, which was acquired through the introduction of foreign designs after the implementation of the Opening-up Policy in 1978. As a consequence of this practice, China introduced a new round of cultural fabrication – the so-called  ‘advanced socialist culture’ – through the use of  high-tech megastructure as a new symbol of the nation.

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