“A Complex Mixture”: World Observation and the Making of Architecture History in Japan
Matthew Mullane, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow, Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies Harvard University
Wednesday, February 26 at 5:15pm
ARTS Seminar Room, 333
How does one make a world history of art and architecture? During the discipline’s global expansion in the nineteenth century, historians in Europe commonly portrayed themselves as deskbound and adrift in a “mass of information” made of the many books, reports and images that flowed into their offices from formerly inaccessible areas of the world. This paper considers the making of such a history from another metropole, Tokyo, and theorizes how this positional, cultural and political difference changed the way that “observation” (kansatsu) was exercised across several media including writing, drawing, photography and architecture. Looking particularly at field expeditions made towards making the first world history of architecture in East Asia, I show how observation was theorized and practiced as a means to not only know the “complex mixture” of world history, but also “mix” observational traditions from Europe and East Asia in a way that was purposeful and politically efficacious.