TDSR 23.2 Spring 2012

Editor’s Note

Hyperreal Monuments of the Mind: Traditional Chinese Architecture and Disneyland
Thorsten Botz-Bornstein
Geographies of Dis/Topia in the Nation-State: Israel, Palestine, and the Geographies of Liberation
Ron J. Smith
The Practice of Home in Old Cairo: Towards Socio-Spatial Models of Sustainable Living
Mohamed Gamal Abdelmonem
Israeli Housing and Nation Building: Establishment of the State-Citizen Contract, 1948-1953
Yael Allweil
Social and Material Influences on the Kelabit Dwelt Environment
Ian J. Ewart

Book Reviews

 


Editor’s Note

Hyperreal Monuments of the Mind: Traditional Chinese Architecture and Disneyland
Thorsten Botz-Bornstein
This article analyzes Chinese and American hyperrealism and its effects on self-perceptions
and cultural identities. In their respective architectural traditions both American
and Chinese ambitions to retrieve a psycho-social quality succeed in circumventing common
requirements of authenticity. The past is present in China in the form of the Chinese
language and letters. Meanwhile, in the United States, the “Disney” approach promotes
the authenticity of the copy within the “real” sphere of American civilization. In paradoxical
fashion both approaches thus attempt to find authenticity and identity in a process of
imitation. A comparison of the two traditions shows how authenticity is never a stable
“material” entity, but rather how all monuments are somehow “monuments of the mind.”

Geographies of Dis/Topia in the Nation-State: Israel, Palestine, and the Geographies of Liberation
Ron J. Smith
Since the dawn of the twenty-first century there have been numerous calls to break with
the tradition of nationalism. Even so, the state remains vital for those seeking liberation.
Denied a representative form of government, safety, or autonomy, the colonized may embrace
a vision of liberation in the form of a independent state. This article interrogates the
dual image of the nation-state as both a space of utopian liberation and dystopic violence
and repression. It focuses on the pernicious nature of the nation-state vision for peoples
on both sides of the Palestinian/Israeli divide.

The Practice of Home in Old Cairo: Towards Socio-Spatial Models of Sustainable Living
Mohamed Gamal Abdelmonem
The article investigates the practice of home as an everyday system for sustainable living
in Old Cairo. The idea of home in this historic urban space has long involved fluid sociospatial
associations and made efficient use of space-activity-time dynamics. As in the past,
the individual’s sense of home may extend beyond or shrink within the physical boundaries
of a particular house, as spatial settings are produced and consumed according to time
of day, gender association, or special events. The article argues that architects working in
this context must understand the dynamics of this complex traditional system if they are to
develop locally informed, genuine designs that build on everyday spatial practices. Work
by the architect Salah Zaki Said and by the Historic Cities Program of the Aga Khan Trust
for Culture is described to illustrate the potential of such engagement, especially as it contrasts
to more abstract architectural proposals.

Israeli Housing and Nation Building: Establishment of the State-Citizen Contract, 1948-1953
Yael Allweil
This article examines the formation and consolidation of a housing-based social contract
between state and citizens during the first years of Israeli national sovereignty. Calls for
a renewal of this contract, including demands for equal access to housing, underlay the
mass social unrest in the country during the summer of 2011. Initially, the creation of Israel
in 1948 brought a housing “big bang” to Israel-Palestine. Mass Jewish migration both
demanded vast housing solutions and brought a mass loss of housing among the Palestinian
population. The year 1948 also marked a watershed in the use of housing as a nationbuilding
strategy within the Zionist movement, transforming it from an effort based on
accumulating self-governing subjects to one obliged to house newly empowered citizens
within a citizen-legitimized political framework. The article shows how these conditions
ultimately led to the articulation of a state-citizen contract that included a “housing regime”
aimed at transforming immigrants into proper citizens. Despite the centrality of the interests
of the state in these activities, however, the article also explores how housing programs
were planned and produced in direct response to continuing demands by citizens. The
consolidation of “regime” and “subjects” as the opposing ends of modern governance, as
suggested by Foucault, was thus deeply contested. The article studies three different housing
schemes developed during Israel’s first five years, a period curiously little studied in
architectural terms.

Social and Material Influences on the Kelabit Dwelt Environment
Ian J. Ewart
Relations with the environment are key to the ways rural people pursue dwelling practices.
But the complex processes of globalization now challenge the isolation of such groups,
affecting their perception and use of the environment. One place this can be seen is the
Kelabit Highlands of northern Sarawak (Malaysian Borneo), where the recent arrival of
commercial logging has allowed local people to make wider connections via the logging
roads. In the Kelabit Highlands, cultural and historic traditions are being reconstituted in
light of new material relations with a dynamic environment, bringing changes to customs
of house building.

Book Reviews
The Courtyard House: From Cultural Reference to Universal Relevance, by Nasser O. Rabat
Reviewed by Sylvia Shorto
Buildings, Landscapes and Memory: Case Studies in Historic Preservation, by Daniel Bluestone
Reviewed by Lucy M. Maulsby
Mediterranean Crossroads: Marseille and Modern Architecture, by Sheila Crane
Reviewed by Emily Gottreich
African Identity in Post-Apartheid Public Architecture: White Skin, Black Masks, by Jonathan Noble
Reviewed by Jeremy Foster
Women and the Everyday City: Public Space in San Francisco, 1890-1915, by Jessica Ellen Sewell
Reviewed by Jessica Brown
Extreme City: Climate Change and the Transformation of the Waterscape, edited by Lorenzo Fabian and Paola Vigano
Reviewed by Elisa Brusegan
Non West Modernist Past: On Architecture and Modernities, edited by William S.W. Lim and Jiat-Hwee Chang
Reviewed by Cecilia Chu

 

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