This collection explores built environments and visual narratives in Asia via cartography, icons and symbols in different historical settings. It grows out of a three-year project focusing on cultural exchange in the making of Asiaâs boundaries as well as its architectural styles and achievements. The editors -- architectural scholars at University of Delaware, Seattle University, University of Washington and Harvard University, respectively â attracted contributions from Asia, Europe, and North America.
The manuscript consists of three sections â in Mapping Asia: Architectural Symbols from Medieval to Early Modern Periods, authors examine icons and symbols in maps and textual descriptions and other early evidence about Asian architecture. Incorporating archival materials from Asia and Europe, the essays present views of Asian architecture seen from those who lived on the continent, those who saw themselves residing along the margins, and those who identified themselves as outsiders. The second section, Conjugating Asia: The Long-Nineteenth Century and its Impetus, explores the construction of the field of Asian architecture and the political imagination of Asian built environments in the nineteenth century. It discusses the parallel narratives of colonialism and Orientalism in the construction of Asia and its architectural environment, mapping how empire-expanding influences from Europe and North America have defined âAsiaâ and its regions through new vocabularies and concepts, which include, among others, âEurasia,â âJap-Alaska,â âAsie coloniale,â âthe Orient,â and âFurther India.â The third section, Manifesting Asia: Building the Continent with Architecture, addresses the physical realization of âAsianâ geographic ideas within a set of specific local and regional contexts in the twentieth century. It examines tangible constructions as legible documents of these notional constructions of Asia, and discusses their construction processes, materials and critical receptions as evidence of the physical's reciprocal relationship to the conceptual. Regions and conditions covered include French Indochina, Iran, post-Soviet Central Asia, Japanese landscape, and the construction of the Afro-Asian built environment.