Southeast Asia's Modern Architecture: Questions of Translation, Epistemology and Power

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Edited by Jiat-Hwee Chang and Imran bin Tajudeen

With contributions from H. Hazel Hahn, Lawrence Chua, Peter Scriver & Amit Srivastava, Tim Winter, Anoma Pieris, Gerard Lico, Koompang Noobanjong, Eunice Seng, Tutin Aryanti, Mark Crinson

What is the modern in Southeast Asia’s architecture and how do we approach its study critically? This pathbreaking multidisciplinary volume is the first critical survey of Southeast Asia’s modern architecture. It looks at the challenges of studying this complex history through the conceptual frameworks of translation, epistemology, and power. Challenging Eurocentric ideas and architectural nomenclature, the authors examine the development of modern architecture in Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, with a focus on selective translation and strategic appropriation of imported ideas and practices by local architects and builders. The book transforms our understandings of the region’s modern architecture by moving beyond a consideration of architecture as an aesthetic artifact and instead examining its entanglement with different dynamics of power.

“This collection opens the existing field up and will enrich specialists’ way of seeing. It shows how “modern architecture” could be differently understood, challenged, transformed and owned. It capably represents a break, but not a retreat from influential architectural history and theory. The aim is to not merely moving beyond the comfortable limit of dominant architectural approach, to retrieve neglected categories, the sense of otherness, and zones of ignorance, but to show how they are constitutive part of the discipline. The volume is enriching for it challenges without ignoring the establishment.”
Abidin Kusno, Professor, University of British Columbia, Canada

“A refreshing book that opens up new lines of analysis for modern architecture in non-Western societies. Theoretically probing and methodologically rigorous, this volume is a major contribution to the histories and historiography of Southeast Asia’s architecture.”
- Duanfang Lu, Professor of Architecture and Urbanism, University of Sydney

“A provocative collection of essays that challenge both colonial epistemologies and nationalist constructs traditionally employed in analyzing modern architectures, landscapes and spatial practices of Southeast Asia; fresh ‘home scholarship’ from authors deeply engaged with the region at the same time that they critically re-construct that ‘regionality’ in terms of cross-cultural flows, knowledge production and politics; a most welcome addition to critical spatial histories of the “non-West”.
- Sibel Bozdogan, History of Art & Architecture, Boston University

Jiat-Hwee Chang is associate professor at the Department of Architecture, National University of Singapore. He is the author of A Genealogy of Tropical Architecture: Colonial Networks, Nature and Technoscience (2016) and a co-editor of Non West Modernist Past: On Architecture and Modernities (2011). 

Imran bin Tajudeen is assistant professor at the Department of Architecture, National University of Singapore. His work on historiographical challenges and translations across architectural categories include chapters in Spirits and Ships (2017), Architecturalized Asia (2014, Choice’s Outstanding Academic Title of 2014), and Colonial Frames, Nationalist Histories (2012).

Publication Year: 2019
400 pages, 229mm x 152mm