Working Paper Series
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Future Traditions of Nature
This article examines a set of contemporary anime films that use the apocalyptic trope to critique
the hubris of human development and its effect on the natural world. Faced with selfextinction,
the protagonists of these films are forced, as we are today, to contemplate how their
traditional views of nature have brought them to this particular precipice. The article argues
that we must move beyond the unsustainable ideology of resourcism, and critically reassess
many of the spatial metaphors, constrictive binaries, and false hierarchies that have contributed
to the current struggle between the built environment and nature.
Stealth Gentrification: Camouflage and
Commerce on the Lower East Side
This article describes current adaptations of the traditional environment of New York's Lower
East Side. It examines how global factors such as expanding "content" industries, market differentiation,
and the Internet have reinforced perceptions of the area as real and authentic
while opening it to dramatic change. Specifically, the article considers a recent trend of commercial
camouflage — hidden shops, restaurants and clubs that "re-present" tradition by
meticulously preserving defunct facades, signage, and other physical traces of the neighborhood's
working-class and immigrant past. Urban camouflage, in various guises, has played a
role in the transformation of the Lower East Side since the late 1970s, and has been employed
by a succession of actors, from squatters to global retailers. As a cultural strategy, it has been
inherent to the economic restructuring of the area, helping to overcome barriers to redevelopment
that have persisted for more than five decades.
On Change and Adaptation:
Rural Inhabitation during the
Romanian Post-Socialist Transition
This article examines the Romanian rural environment after twenty years of never-ending
transition toward the promised land of capitalism. Since the end of the dictatorial regime that
lasted nearly half a century, changes in rural building have challenged the condition of
Romania's traditions. New social phenomena like migration and tourism now overlap a confused,
ambiguous search for greater comfort and the desire for social exposure. The article
suggests that the apparently malformed visions of the new vernacular are just one of many
intermediate phases that a tradition goes through in times of transition. Adapting and improvising
have always best defined the spontaneous Romanian rural spirit.
On Concrete and Stone: Shifts and
Conflicts in Israeli Architecture
Israel is unilaterally building a wall to separate itself from Palestine. Within its confines, its
citizens have been led to believe, Israeli society can flourish without interruption. This article
challenges this assumption by questioning the impact of the former — the external political
border — on the latter — the cultural production of Israeli society. More specifically, it
explores the formative effect of the shifting border between Israeli and Palestinian territories
on the imagination and production of "authentic" Israeli architecture. In this light, architectural
trends such as "Bauhaus," "regionalism," and "place," as well as building materials such
as concrete and stone, have assumed political dimensions in Israeli society.
Constructing Ethnic Identity: Making and
Remaking Korean-Chinese Rural Houses
in Yanbian, 1881–2008
Rural Korean-Chinese dwelling traditions have undergone deep social and political fluctuations
since the arrival of Korean migrants in Yanbian in the late nineteenth century. However,
the way this population has built their houses has continued to reinforce their sense of a separate
identity in a foreign land. By examining ethnic policies related to Korean-Chinese rural
houses in Yanbian, this study affirms the role of the state in constructing ethnic identity, and
challenges the present theorization of hybridity.
The Politics of the Piazza: the History and Meaning of the Italian Square. Eamonn Canniffe.
Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2008. 288 pp., b&w illus.
Reviewed by Joshua Arthurs
Space for Engagement: The Indian Artplace and a Habitational
Approach to Architecture. Himanshu Burte. Calcutta: Seagull
Books, 2008. 340 pp., 134 b&w photos and 22 drawings.
Reviewed by Michael Southworth and Susan Southworth
The American College Town. Blake Gumprecht. Amherst:
University of Massachusetts Press, 2008. 448 pp., 82 ill., 12
Reviewed by Clare Robinson
Matra: Ways of Measuring Vernacular Built Forms of Himachal
Pradesh. Jay Thakkar and Skye Morrison. Ahmedabad:
Research Cell, School of Interior Design, CEPT University,
2008. 314 pp., color photos, measured drawings, computer
renderings, and sketches.
Reviewed by Yael Valerie Perez