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An Architecture under Influence? Building between the Local and the Global and across the Colonial and the Postcolonial in Southeast Asia

Sat, April 2, 3:00 to 5:00pm, Washington State Convention Center, Floor: 6th Floor, Room 604

Session Submission Type: Organized Panel


Architectural aesthetics are rarely neutral. Patterns of influence are too often seen in simplistic ways as manifestations of domination transmitted in a uniform manner. The four papers in this panel demonstrate the multiplicity of forms and senses that influence can take, and unravel the dynamics of interpretations of styles from pre-colonial to postcolonial periods. Each paper covers a broad modern period, while incorporating themes of interpretations of bygone eras. By showing complex connections across time periods, the panel calls into question the widespread acceptance of the great divide between pre-colonial and colonial periods, and between colonial and postcolonial periods, respectively. The panelists achieve this by examining: accumulated incorporation of aesthetic influences from pre-colonial through colonial sources in a single Thai temple (Rujivacharakul); Vietnamese architects, as colonial and postcolonial subjects, partaking in International Modernism while responding to local needs and tastes (Herbelin); recurring patterns of stylistic dialogue across colonial and postcolonial periods in Ho Chi Minh City (Hahn); and renewal of “local” styles drawing from selected usage of the past in Indonesia’s Riau Islands for the state-led construction of local identity (Moser). Through cases of cultural exchange across time and space, the panel examines ideological underpinnings of aesthetics that loom large in questions of heritage and identity regarding the local and the global, and show that it is far from the case that influence has flowed simply following trajectories of domination.

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