Exotic Moderns: City, Space + ‘Other’ Modernities


Spring 2013

Jyoti Hosagrahar, instructor

This seminar explored the fragmented, complex and paradoxical urbanism of contemporary cities in Asia, Africa and Latin America, in the context of globalization and colonialism. What does modernity mean in cities outside the conventional West? In an interconnected world of global flows, how do we understand and engage with questions of difference? We examined what happens when global modernity engages with particular places, localities and traditions. We began with the premise that modernity, claimed and defined by the West, was fundamentally global and that colonialism and modernity are connected. From these perspectives we explored the cultural and symbolic dimensions of spatial transformation. The seminar focused on the ways in which the global and local reconcile when local settlement practices and spatial cultures encounter universal ones. While recognizing our subjective position within the Western academe, we critically examined dualities such as ‘traditional’ and ‘modern,’ ‘West’ and ‘non-West,’ ‘Orient’ and ‘Occident,’ as culturally constructed categories that frame professional understandings and interventions in architecture and urbanism. The course integrated a historical and cultural understanding of the architecture and urbanism of specific places with theoretical considerations of post-colonialism.