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Title: Towards a genealogy of tropical architecture: Historical fragments of power-knowledge, built environment and climate in the British colonial territories
Authors: Chang, J.-H. 
King, A.D.
Keywords: Bungalow
Colonial biopolitics
Labourers' housing
Military barrack
Tropical architecture
Issue Date: 2011
Citation: Chang, J.-H., King, A.D. (2011). Towards a genealogy of tropical architecture: Historical fragments of power-knowledge, built environment and climate in the British colonial territories. Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography 32 (3) : 283-300. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: In this paper, we trace the history of tropical architecture beyond its supposed founding moment, that is, its institutionalization and naming-as-such, in the mid-twentieth century. We note that many of the planning principles, spatial configurations and environmental technologies of tropical architecture could be traced to knowledge and practices from the eighteenth century onwards, and we explore three pre-1950s moments of 'tropical architecture' in the British empire through building types such as the bungalow, military barrack and labourers' housing in the tropics. Unlike the depoliticized technical discourse of tropical architecture in the mid-twentieth century, this earlier history shows that so-called tropical architecture was inextricably entangled with medical and racial discourses, biopolitics and the political economy of colonialism. We argue that tropical architecture should not be understood as an entity with a fixed essence that is overdetermined by a timeless and unchanging external tropical nature. Rather, tropical architecture should be understood as a set of shifting discourses that privilege tropical nature, especially climate, in various ways as the prime determinant of built form according to different constellations of sociocultural and technoscientific conditions. We thus see 'tropical architecture' not as a depoliticized entity but as a power-knowledge configuration inextricably linked to asymmetrical colonial power relations. © 2011 The Authors. Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography© 2011 Department of Geography, National University of Singapore and Blackwell Publishing Asia Pty Ltd.
Source Title: Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography
ISSN: 01297619
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9493.2011.00434.x
Appears in Collections:Staff Publications

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