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Architecture and Urban Studies in South and Southeast Asia


Subject Imperial, Colonial, and Postcolonial History » Postcolonial History

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781444334982.2016.x


The spatial fields were first impacted by ideas fundamental to postcolonial studies through the work of Edward Said and his theory of orientalism, drawing specifically on the unequal representation of the West and the “other” in literature and orientalist art. Representative practices associated with colonialism ranging from expositions and durbars (ceremonial gatherings after the Moghul court) to colonial urban plans linked this history to discussions of the uneven urban development of colonial contexts. The ensuing literature was largely focused on colonial power and indigenous subjection/resistance and traced the inscription of these power relations in the built environment. The theoretical inspirations for this approach, in addition to Said, were Michel Foucault's critique of enlightenment institutions, Antonio Gramsci's ideas on bourgeois cultural hegemony, and Franz Fanon's discussion of race. Among the scholars who rewrote the histories of colonial cities within this new paradigm during the 1970s and 1980s were Anthony King, Thomas Metcalf, Paul Rabinow, Tim Mitchell, and Janet Abu Lughod, in work focused primarily on India, North Africa, and the Middle East. These broad geographic regions, connected by trade and political networks that predated the European colonial encounter, had been transformed by the spread of Islam, and were the sites for Europe's imperial ambitions. ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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