Working Paper Series
Back issues can be ordered for $22.50
Tradition in a Global City?
The article examines the
nature of tradition in the urban environment, and argues that in global
cities tradition fundamentally involves relations of power. It opens by
defining a vocabulary reflecting conceptual distinctions, such as between
popular traditions and traditions of power, continuing traditions and
recalled traditions, and negative traditions. It then examines how these
distinctions relate to the exercise of power in New York, with reference to
the tradition of tall buildings, and the World Trade Center site in
particular; and in Berlin, with reference to the rebuilding of symbolic
sites in the wake of German reunification. It concludes with a brief look
at tradition as a form of resistance.
Violence and Empathy: National
Museums and the Spectacle of Society
C. Greig Crysler
This article compares the
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., with the
Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, South Africa. While dealing with
different historical contexts, both institutions seek to embody models of
tolerant national citizenship in their visitors by immersing them in
narratives of collective violence, death and ultimately, national rebirth.
I examine these museums in relation to the emergence of similar institutions
around the world, and argue that they reinvent pedagogies of citizenship and
consumption that can be traced to spaces of public exhibition and display in
the nineteenth century. I suggest that the practices of empathetic
identification employed by both institutions can be located within
contemporary practices of consumer spectacle and prosthetic self-fashioning,
and are intertwined with the rise of affective labor and global economies of
desire. In crafting idealized models of citizenship based on the simulated
experience of national violence, both museums attempt to contain politically
charged histories in a museological past, where they can be curated,
commemorated and instrumentally separated from the violence of nation-state
in the global present.
Building for the Business of Bermuda
The vernacular building
of Bermuda until very recently followed the slow, steady trajectory of
small-island evolution. In the 1960s its distinctive architectural
aesthetic was written into the law, partly to safeguard the tourist
industry. Contemporary economic events in Bermuda, driven by the forceful
presence of international insurance companies, are now dictating change.
This article examines two buildings, recently constructed as global
headquarters for ACE Limited and XL Capital Limited. It links the conscious
manipulation of local traditions of material culture by these companies to
residual effects of Bermuda’s particular colonial history.
Modeling Citizenship in Turkey’s Miniature Park
This article discusses the design and wider political significance of
Miniaturk, a nonprofit cultural heritage site opened in Istanbul in 2003.
It analyzes how image, publicity, and architectural form have come together
to rework memory to conform to a new perceived relationship between citizens
and the Turkish state. As a site of architectural miniatures, Miniaturk
provides an escape from the experience of the everyday. But it also must be
understood in dialectic relation to gigantic new sites of global capital
around the city. Miniature parks are a global type with a long history.
The article seeks to understand why a miniature Turkey has only just
appeared, and why it has been received with such enthusiasm in the context
of contemporary Turkish politics. How can its appeal be interpreted in
relation to comparable sites? As a cultural “showcase,” how does it
represent Istanbul, Turkey, and the concept of Turkish citizenship?
Changing Zuluness: Capturing the Mercurial Indigenous Vernacular Architecture of the Eastern Seaboard of Southern Africa
Many consider the beehive
grass iqhugwana archetypically Zulu. Along with the shield and
assegai, it is iconic in the tourism culture of “the Zulu Kingdom,”
representing the maintenance of an exotic “tradition.” I argue that this is
not necessarily so, as historical material shows evidence of a continual
adaptation and evolution of this form. Furthermore, using the more
contemporary example of the decorated buildings of Msinga, I suggest that
the recent vernacular environment is a result of a postglobal Africanization,
in a geographic area that, due to its circumstances, may have missed out on
the globalization phenomenon completely.