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Type: Thesis
Title: ’Indian architecture’ and the production of a postcolonial discourse: a study of architecture + design (1984-1992).
Author: Panicker, Shaji K.
Issue Date: 2008
School/Discipline: School of Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Urban Design
Abstract: An unprecedented production of discourses on contemporary Indian architects and architecture occurred in the 1980s. Published in a period of political transition and conspicuous new cultural production and debate in many fields, four decades after India’s independence from colonial rule in 1947, these architectural discourses have become privileged references that have shaped but also limited perception of late-twentieth century architectural production in India. While subsequent writers have addressed some of these limitations, the small but growing critical literature in this field still exhibits many of the same problems of representation. Despite problematising the construction of ‘Indian architecture’ in colonial and postcolonial discourse, these critiques have nevertheless taken for granted (as in the more popular and professionally oriented discourses of the 1980s) the existence of a pan-Indian community of architects, united in their search for a collective identity. Such monolithic perceptions of contemporary ‘Indian architecture’ have yet to be interpreted with regard to the conspicuous contexts in which they were produced — that is, from an ‘Indian’ point of view. Through a selective focus on a particularly productive site of discourse in 1980s India, I investigate complexities that have not yet been examined in the formation and reproduction of a dominant consensus on the identity of contemporary Indian architecture. The argument draws attention not only to the agency of particular contemporary Indian architects in the construction of this identity, but also the relativity of region in the architectural production of India during the 1980s. Specifically, I focus on an influential architectural magazine, Architecture + Design (A+D) that began publishing in 1984 from a dominant region of architectural production, Delhi. I provide an account of the manner in which history, context, agency and agents, came together at a point in time, within this architectural magazine, as a complex set of historically constituted social relations, to authorise and sustain particular viewpoints about contemporary Indian architecture. Using the French sociologist, Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of the field of cultural production, I relate issues of dominance and marginalisation observable in the production of this particular discourse on contemporary Indian architecture to the space of the positions held by its producers. Despite its avowed agenda of viewing contemporary Indian architecture differently in the 1980s, I argue, the selection and judgement of exemplary contemporary work deemed worthy of discussion in A+D as ‘Indian Architecture’ functioned (and continues to function) through established categories of perception and appreciation.
Advisor: Scriver, Peter
Akkach, Samer
Dissertation Note: Thesis (Ph.D.) - University of Adelaide, School of Architecture, 2008
Subject: Indian architecture
Architecture India
Architecture India 20th century
Architects India
Architecture in literature
Postcolonialism India
Keywords: Indian architecture; postcolonial; discourse; Pierre Bourdieu; cultural production; representation; colonial discourse; sites of discourse
Provenance: Copyright material removed from digital thesis. See print copy in University of Adelaide Library for full text.
Appears in Collections:Research Theses

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