Architecture, Power, and National Identity Essay examples
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Having a sense of belonging is one of several fundamental human needs and national identity refers to a person’s sense of belonging to one country with its history, values and traditions. Since achieving independence in 1957, the issue of Malaysia’s national identity has been in the spotlight due to its strong social, political and economical factors implication. As a multi-cultural country, the search for a national identity is not an easy undertaking as Malaysians consist of different ethnics such as Malay, Chinese and Indian. Each ethnic group contributes their own unique culture and religion, hence making it difficult to form a Malaysian identity. In fact, in September 2010, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak announced the 1 Malaysia…show more content…
The term, vernacular architecture, was first used by architectural theorists to describe buildings that seemed not to have been ‘consciously’ designed and affected by the intellectual and artistic currents of the Renaissance (Dell Upton, 1983).
With the growing presence of globalization and modernization, the pre-industrial building heritage is indeed under threat with modern methods prevailing. In that vein, we are seeing how the “designs, use and meanings of these traditions change within the concepts of the contemporary processes” in a globalized world (Lindsay Asquit, Marcel Vellinga, 2006).
The societal effects are evident in the negotiation of identity, and the definition and value of key concepts like tradition, modernity and place (Lindsay Asquit, Marcel Vellinga, 2006). One of the most engaging aspects that is relevant to the discourse of how vernacular architecture is tradition. It has been a major theme in writings on vernacular architecture (Al Sayyad, 2004). According to the values Victor Papanek exposed in his theory that “vernacular architecture is the result of multiple causation”, tradition as practiced in vernacular architecture can be displayed via a cultural explanation: In a traditional setting, there are many that determine an auspicious date before starting construction, by way
It is a sense of a nation as a cohesive whole, seen through its distinct traditions, culture and language. And crafting a national identity is a complex undertaking as the concept is difficult to grasp. It is an imaginary idea, nebulous, yet it is the very glue binding a nation together. Even in the smallest nation, citizens will never know most of their fellow-citizens, yet in the minds of each lives the imaginary idea of nationhood and all of this becomes overwhelming when it comes to India with its 1.2 billion people of differing faiths, castes and languages. India’s founding fathers knew the daunting challenges involved, but it had to be accomplished as the entire project of nation building rested on it. And Jawaharlal Nehru, the architect of modern India, deliberately set out to define this identity in syncretic terms to further this project.
Markers of identity
The most obvious markers are the national flag and the national anthem. And much before India became independent there were furious debates on the design of the national flag and in the choice of the national anthem. India also has a national song, and some of the verses of this song — Vande Matram — were deleted to make it acceptable to all. Even today this issue is controversial and debated.
Discursive essays on identity.
Aside from the voluminous writings of Mahatma Gandhi, Nehru and B.R. Ambedkar, any study of Indian-ness has to perforce include the magisterial works of Ramachandra Guha, Amartya Sen’s The Argumentative Indian, a bracing sweep through aspects of Indian history and culture, as per Sunil Khilnani, whose own seminal book Idea of India captures the paradoxes and ironies in the invention of India. Into this heady mix comes the telling quote of polymath A. K. Ramanujan, “you want self-knowledge? Come to America. Just as the Mahatma had to go jail and sit behind bars to write his autobiography. Or Nehru had go to England to discover India. Things are clear only when looked at from a distance”. Ramanujan’s essay” Is there an Indian way of thinking” written much earlier — in 1985 — than the works quoted and it was a groundbreaking enquiry that set the tone for much that was to follow.
In complete contrast to all of this is Sumathi Ramaswamy‘s The Goddess and the Nation: Mapping of Mother India. Making the case for a new kind of visual history, it charts the pictorial life and career of Bharat Mata, “Mother India,” the Indian nation imagined as mother/goddess, embodiment of national territory, and unifying symbol for the country’s diverse communities. While this, like Diane Eck’s narrative, does not directly feed into the Hindu right wing view of Indian-ness, it does provide the wherewithal’s for the identity wars that we are a witness to, today.
Evolving National Identity: A moving needle.
National identity is invented and imagined and consequently malleable and not fixed in time. Therefore it is entirely possible that in the collective consciousness of the people there can be differing and contentious views on this subject as time goes by.
Rating Poll Element
Common Sense: Provides a logical way forward
Inspiring: Makes me want to take action
Controversial: Highly unexpected view or opinion
Worrying: Makes me concerned