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Chinese Houses of Southeast Asia: The Eclectic Architecture of Sojourners and Settlersby Ronald G Knapp
Synopses & Reviews
The migration of Chinese from southeastern China to the Nanyang—the peninsular and insular region known today as Southeast Asia—is a significant component of the world’s major cultural diasporas. After many of these migrants and their descendants became successful, they built architecturally eclectic homes—shophouses, bungalows, villas, and mansions—that combined Chinese, European, and local influences. It is the story of these hybrid architectural forms, built under different social and geographical environments than had been known at home in China and thus the products of cultural fusion, that is the focus of this book. While most of these old buildings have disappeared, scattered throughout Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, there still remain; fine examples worth studying, documenting, and explaining.
Over a three-year period from 2007 to 2009, Ronald G. Knapp and A. Chester Ong made; five; field excursions to Asia in search of the old homes of Chinese sojourners and settlers. Chinese Houses of Southeast Asia, a fascinating account of architectural multiculturalism in the pre-modern world, presents the results of their research. An introductory essay portrays the historical circumstances that gave rise to Chinese houses overseas, and includes historic images, color photographs, paintings, and line drawings.
At the core of the book are stunning color photographs of nearly forty residences built from the late eighteenth into the early twentieth century. For each residence, background information about the individual and his family who built and then lived there is given. These tales reveal the entrepreneurial spirit of the immigrants as well as the social and economic circumstances in which they lived. Images and drawings from southeastern China help clarify similarities and differences, and, in several cases, related family residences in China are also presented. Chinese Houses of Southeast Asia complements Knapp and Ong’s 2005 award-winning Chinese Houses: The Architectural Heritage of a Nation, which highlighted more than twenty of China’s most significant historic residences.
"The author has opened new doors to all of us who are fascinated with the plurality of Southeast Asia." —Wang Gungwu, from his foreword
The multiple Chinese migrations from southeastern China to Southeast Asia have had important implications for both regions. In Southeast Asia this influence can be seen in the architecturally eclectic homes these migrants and their descendants built as they became successful; homes that combined Chinese, European and local influences, especially during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Chinese Houses of Southeast Asia strives not only to be an informative but also an authoritative book on the subject of hybrid architecture—filled with stunning color photographs and essays on nearly thirty well-preserved homes.
About the Author
Ronald G. Knapp has been carrying out research in China's countryside on cultural and historical geography since 1965. Currently SUNY Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the State University of New York, New Paltz, he is the author or contributing editor of more than a dozen books, including the award-winning Chinese Houses and Chinese Bridges.
A. Chester Ong has photographed widely throughout Asia. His photography appears in magazines and exhibitions, as well as books, including China Modern, Chinese Houses, China Living and Chinese Bridges.
Wang Gungwu is University Professor and Chairman of the East Asian Institute at the National University of Singapore and is especially noted for his scholarly work on Chinese migration, settlement, and identity in Southeast Asia.
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Arts and Entertainment » Architecture » China and Japan