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2014/15 Cities: Pacific Rim

2014/15 Cities: Pacific Rim

Cites: Pacific Rim

Our “Cities” series focuses this year on the Pacific Rim– especially the west side of the rim. As usual, we will be hosting speakers from a wide variety of disciplines, exploring cities from Tokyo to Hong Kong, via topics ranging from water to bullet trains. Pacific Rim presentations will be held in the Palmer LipconAuditorium on selected Thursday evenings.


Fall 2014

Oct 16, 2014 
7:00 p.m. – 112 Borland
Film: The White Countess 

More information to come.

Nov 20, 2014 
7:00 p.m. – Palmer Lipcon Auditorium, Palmer Museum of Art
"The Dreamworlds of a Cold War City: Hong Kong and Its Geopolitical Imaginary
Shuang Shen

In the 1950s and 60s, because of Hong Kong’s strategic geographical location as a major node for the British Empire’s trade network and for the rapidly expanding U.S. global presence, only a stone’s throw from the increasingly assertive People’s Republic of China, the city became an ideal site for information gathering and political propaganda by the opposing sides in the Cold War. Pro-Beijing and pro-Taiwan forces staged frequent conflicts in the city streets, bringing international politics into the residents’
everyday life.

In this context, various political and cultural “dreamworlds” mwere conjured up in the cultural imaginary of Hong Kong that reflected the displacement of the city in both Chinese national and global geopolitical imagination.

Spring 2015

Jan 22, 2015 
7:00 p.m. – Palmer Lipcon Auditorium, Palmer Museum of Art
"The Burden of Cosmopolitanism: Singapore's Search for Past, Present, and Future" 
Nicolai Volland

Priding itself to be a cosmopolitan city-state, Singapore emphasizes its policies of “racial harmony” that showcase the peaceful together-ness of the three officially recognized races—Chinese, Malays, and Indians. The emphasis on harmony in official discourses, however, belies a deep-seated anxiety about the complex heterogeneity of a Southeast Asian immigrant enclave at the conflux of influences from East Asia, South Asia, Europe, and beyond. The dazzling cosmopolitanism that was foundational to modern Singapore has thus turned into a burdensome legacy that needs to be channeled, redefined, and ultimately sterilized. This talk delves into Singapore’s multilayered pasts, as well as contemporary discourses about the city-state’s past, present, and future. Examining both official and unofficial discourses, the talk draws attention to a thriving cosmopolitan culture beneath the veneer of textbook definitions and asks—can there be something like “vernacular cosmopolitanism?”

Feb 19, 2015 Cancelled due to extreme cold. Will be rescheduled.
7:00 p.m. – Palmer Lipcon Auditorium, Palmer Museum of Art
“Super-Express, Mega-Events, and the Bullet Train City" 
Jessamyn Abel

Japan’s first Bullet Train connected a Tokyo newly rebuilt for the 1964 Summer Olympics with Osaka, soon to host an international exposition in 1970.  The Western terminal was called “New Osaka Station” simply to differentiate it from the existing train station in the city’s center, but the name captures some truth of the transformative impact that the new line had on the cities it connected. While preparation for the Olympic Games physically reshaped Tokyo, the opening of the world’s fastest train and accompanying “speed-up” of the entire Japanese rail system transformed the cities of the Tōkaidō corridor and beyond in terms of both urban geography and metropolitan identity, as shifting patterns of mobility engendered new views of space, distance, and local cultures. People responded to new travel opportunities with both excitement and trepidation. While many celebrated benefits to Osaka, Atami, and other cities, others worried that faster, easier domestic travel would accelerate Japan’s cultural homogenization by erasing the distinctive character of distant cities. This talk will examine the real and imagined changes to Japan’s most densely populated corridor by the super-express and mega-events of the 1960s.

Mar 19, 2015
7:00 p.m. – Palmer Lipcon Auditorium, Palmer Museum of Art
"Urbanism in the Absence of Water: Beijing and the Yongding River"
Ron Henderson

The retreat of the waters of Beijing demands an investigation of urbanism in the absence of water. Flood walls were constructed less than fifty years ago for a river that now lacks flow to such a degree that sheep grazing, golf courses, and other uses are occupying the riverbed. During this same period, the water table of Beijing's formerly fecund aquifer has dropped approximately one meter per year so it is now over fifty meters below recent historic levels. The talk will outline the water ecology of Beijing, the situation of waters in the urban plan of Beijing, and will include recent professional projects and student investigations in the capital region.

Apr 16, 2015
7:00 p.m. – Palmer Lipcon Auditorium, Palmer Museum of Art
Cities: Pacific Rim Series
“Visions of Order and Antiquity: A Hindu Pilgrimage city in the Nineteenth century” 
Madhuri Desai

Colonial endeavors at creating a positivist historical timeline for South Asia had consequences for its Hindu religious built environments. In the nineteenth-century, the pilgrimage city of Banaras became embroiled in such conversations on urban order and antiquarianism. In their engagement with colonial knowledge, the city’s Hindu elites selectively adopted colonial perspectives and practices. They used textual and visual representations to frame the city and its ritual landscapes through the twin (and mutually contradictory) lenses of mythology and antiquarianism.