Books

Traditions: The ‘Real’, the Hyper, and the Virtual in the Built Environment

Edited by:  Nezar AlSayyad
Routledge, 2014

Traditions: The ‘Real’, the Hyper, and the Virtual in the Built Environment is a continuation of Nezar AlSayyad’s engagement with the subject of tradition in the built environment. In it he attempts to unsettle the belief that tradition is simply a product of history and transmission. Without dismissing the parallels between history and tradition, he argues that normative discourses which conceive of tradition as a place-based, temporally situated concept, as a static authoritative legacy of a past, and as a heritage owned by certain groups of people can no longer be sustained in the present moment of globalization. Instead he calls for an approach that recognizes how the main qualities of tradition are transient, fleeting, and contingent. While using the built environment as the primary lens of investigation, other approaches for the study of tradition, with origins in geography, history, sociology, or anthropology, are actively deployed in this book. AlSayyad offers a recasting of the epistemology of tradition as fundamentally spatial, thus providing a much-needed theoretical rudder for the emerging debates. Rather than analyzing tradition as a reaction to modernity or as its antithetical other, he examines those discursive and spatial terrains where tradition collides and colludes with modernity. AlSayyad argues that built traditional environments have been studied until recently as ‘authentic’ environments that represent ‘real’ everyday practices. But, as his research illustrates, their consumption at a mass scale, especially in the arena of tourism and mass media, has often elevated them to hyper-environments whose connection to ‘real’ places results in fundamentally ‘dis-placed’ and disembodied experience. More recently, the portrayal of traditional environments in both the virtual realm and heritage discourses has resulted in new articulations of tradition that could not be imagined just a few decades ago. AlSayyad interrogates the meanings and practices of tradition in the twenty-first century by looking at these three distinct categories of the built environment: the ‘real’, the hyper, and the virtual.

 

Large ImageThe End of Tradition?

Edited by:  Nezar AlSayyad
Routledge, 2003

Rooted in real world observations, this book questions the concept of tradition – whether contemporary globalization will prove its demise or whether there is a process of simultaneous ending and renewing.

In his introduction, Nezar Alsayyad discusses the meaning of the word ‘tradition’ and the current debates about the ‘end of tradition’. Thereafter the book is divided into three parts. The three chapters in part I explore the inextricable link between ‘tradition’ and ‘modern’, revealing the geopolitical implications of this link. Part II looks at tradition as a

process of invention and here the three chapters are all concerned with the making of landscapes and landscape myths, showing how the spectacle of history can be aestheticized and naturalized. Finally, Part III shows how tradition is a regime, programmed and policed and how it has been deployed, resisted, and reworked through hegemonic struggles that seek to create both built environments and citizen-subjects.

 

Large Image

Consuming Tradition, Manufacturing Heritage

Edited by:  Nezar AlSayyad
Taylor & Francis, 2000

From the Grand Tour to today’s packages holidays, the last two centuries have witnessed an exponential growth in travel and tourism and, as the twenty-first century unfolds, people of every class and from every country will be wandering to every part of the planet.

Meanwhile tourist destinations throughout the world find themselves in ever more fierce competition – those places marginalized in today’s global industrial and information economy perceiving tourism as perhaps the only means of surviving. But mass tourism has raised the local and international passions as people decry the irreversible destruction of traditional places and historic sites.

Against these trends and at a time when standardized products and services are marketed worldwide, there is an increasing demand for built environments that promise unique cultural experiences. This has led many nations and groups to engage in the parallel processes of facilitating the consumption of tradition and of manufacturing tradition.

The contributors to this volume – drawn from a wide range of disciplines – address these themes within the following sections: Traditions and Tourism: Rethinking the “Other”; Imaging and Manufacturing Heritage; Manufacturing and Consuming: Global and Local. Their studies, dealing with very different times, environments and geographic locales, will shed new light on how tourist ‘gaze’ transforms the reality of built spaces into cultural imagery.

 

Large ImageDwellings, Settlements and Tradition

Edited by: Jean Paul Bourdier and Nezar AlSayyad
University Press of America, 1989

Recognized by the Pioneer America Society and awarded the Fred Kniffin Prize for the best in material Culture in 1990, this volume contains 25 chapters including papers and keynote speeches presented at the first conference that marked the inauguration of the the international Association for the Study of Traditional environments at the University of California, Berkeley in 1988.