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The New Asian City

Three-Dimensional Fictions of Space and Urban Form

2011
Author:

Jini Kim Watson

The New Asian City

Cultural productions reveal a darker side to development in emblematic Asian Tiger cities

In The New Asian City, Jini Kim Watson provides an innovative approach to how we might better understand the gleaming Asian Tiger metropolises of Seoul, Taipei, and Singapore. In doing so, Watson demonstrates how reading cultural production in conjunction with built environments can enrich our knowledge of the lived consequences of rapid economic and urban development.

The New Asian City is capacious, probing, and exciting as it cuts across Asian global fields: Jini Kim Watson makes the Pacific Rim urban space boom, transform, and resonate with life force, social knowledge, and urban creativity.

Rob Wilson, author of Reimagining the American Pacific: From ‘South Pacific’ to Bamboo Ridge and Beyond

Under Jini Kim Watson’s scrutiny, the Asian Tiger metropolises of Seoul, Taipei, and Singapore reveal a surprising residue of the colonial environment. Drawing on a wide array of literary, filmic, and political works, and juxtaposing close readings of the built environment, Watson demonstrates how processes of migration and construction in the hypergrowth urbanscapes of the Pacific Rim crystallize the psychic and political dramas of their colonized past and globalized present.

Tracing the way newly constructed spaces—including expressways, high-rises, factory zones, and department stores—become figured within cultural texts, The New Asian City explores how urban transformations were rationalized, perceived, and fictionalized. Watson shows how literature, film, and poetry have described and challenged contemporary Asian metropolises, especially around the formation of gendered and laboring subjects in these new spaces. She suggests that by embracing the postwar growth-at-any-cost imperative, they have buttressed the nationalist enterprise along neocolonial lines.

The New Asian City
provides an innovative approach to how we might better understand the gleaming metropolises of the Pacific Rim. In doing so, it demonstrates how reading cultural production in conjunction with built environments can enrich our knowledge of the lived consequences of rapid economic and urban development.

The New Asian City

Jini Kim Watson is assistant professor of English and comparative literature at New York University.

The New Asian City

The New Asian City is capacious, probing, and exciting as it cuts across Asian global fields: Jini Kim Watson makes the Pacific Rim urban space boom, transform, and resonate with life force, social knowledge, and urban creativity.

Rob Wilson, author of Reimagining the American Pacific: From ‘South Pacific’ to Bamboo Ridge and Beyond

This is an unusually interesting book. It is remarkable not because the New Asian City is analyzed in terms of the latest urban theory available, but because it demonstrates how much farther urban theory has to go to catch up with the Asian city.

Ackbar Abbas, author of Hong Kong: Culture and the Politics of Disappearance

The New Asian City can be read along both of its two axes: by people interested in the nuts and bolts of Asian urban forms and political-economic development, and by people interested in this powerful body of fictional work, which includes proletarian writing, women’s novellas, city poetry, and auteur films.

Rorotoko

Jini Kim Watson’s book links literature, architecture, urban studies, film, and economic history into a wonderfully rich account of the fictions of urban transformation in Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan. By the end of the book, the reader leaves this wonderful collection of stories and analyses inspired to think about and experience built space anew.

New Books Network

Jini Kim Watson’s The New Asian City leaves the reader with a new understanding of the
complex modernization processes of a region from the colonial era to the 1980s, a region that today is a prosperous part of the global economy. It will prove stimulating to readers with an interest in the East Asian region, and to scholars in the fields of literary criticism, postcolonial, and cultural studies.

Journal of Regional Science

Jini Kim Watson’s impressive first monograph provides an innovative analysis of twentieth-century fiction produced in Singapore, Seoul and Taipei, employing post-colonial theory. Watson’s style is fluent and engaging, presenting complex theories in an accessible and informative way.

Journal of Urban History

This book is surely a meaningful contribution to both postcolonial studies and the study of Asian cities, one which challenges the univalent discussion of modernity, expanding the scope and content of both fields and recasting the notion of ‘region’ as a unit of analysis.

Traditonal Dwellings and Settlements Review

The New Asian City is a joyful read that lucidly presents the twists and turns of the colonial and postcolonial urban transformation experienced by the metropolises of Asian tiger economies. The innovative use of textual representations provides and exemplary attempt at transdisciplinary scholarship, and for social scientists excavates a new arena of academic enquiry on historical trajectories of urban development in places where recorded histories may be lacking.

Environment and Planning C

The New Asian City

Contents

Note on Romanization
Introduction: The Production of Space in Singapore, Seoul, and Taipei

Part I. Colonial Cities
1. Imagining the Colonial City
2. Orphans of Asia: Modernity and Colonial Literature

Export Production and the Blank Slate

Part II. Postwar Urbanism
3. Narratives of Human Growth versus Urban Renewal
4. The Disappearing Woman, Interiority, and Private Space

Roads, Railways, and Bridges: Arteries of the Nation

Part III. Industrializing Landscapes
5. The Way Ahead: The Politics and Poetics of Singapore’s Developmental Landscape
6. Mobility and Migration in Taiwanese New Cinema
7. The Redemptive Realism of Korean Minjung Literature

Conclusion. Too Late, Too Soon: Globalization and New Asian Cities
Acknowledgments
Notes
Bibliography
Index