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Architecture and the landscape of modernity in China up to 1949

Denison, E.; (2011) Architecture and the landscape of modernity in China up to 1949. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

This study examines China’s encounter with architecture and modernity from c.1900 to 1949. In the context of architecture, it expands current knowledge of the practice in pre-communist China. In terms of the study of modernity, it addresses the uniqueness of China’s encounter with modernity through the concept of multiple modernities; a recent theoretical development in social sciences that has yet to be applied to architectural studies. In the context of China studies, it contributes to redressing the current underrepresentation of architecture within studies of the arts. The methodological approach is inclusive, geographically, temporally and architecturally. It is geographically broad within the bounds of China; temporally, while focusing on the period to 1949, it acknowledges China’s incomparably long building traditions and recent urban development; architecturally, it treats contributions of Chinese and Western architects as integral rather than separate. The central theme of this study is that China’s encounter with modernity was mediated multifariously and dominated by contact with Western powers and through contact with an Eastern power, Japan. The heterogeneous origin of modernity in China is what makes its experience unique and its architectural encounters distinctive. These are investigated through a reevaluation of established knowledge of the subject and the inclusion of original archival and photographic material concentrating on Western influence through the Treaty Ports, the emergence of architecture as a profession in China, and Japan’s colonial activities in Manchuria. This study acknowledges the paradox presented by examining China using non- Chinese criteria and considers alternatives to the Westerncentricty that underlies existing approaches to non-Western topics. A multiple modernities approach not only questions the application of conventional theories of modernity or post-colonialism to the Chinese situation, but also offers a more effective way of comprehending the unique complexity of China’s encounter with architectural modernity.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:Architecture and the landscape of modernity in China up to 1949
Language:English
Additional information:Permission for digitisation not received
UCL classification:UCL > School of BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > Bartlett School > Bartlett School of Architecture

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