Rorotoko: The New Asian City


Jini Kim Watson

On her book The New Asian City: Three-Dimensional Fictions of Space and Urban Form

Cover Interview of May 29, 2012

The wide angle


The New Asian City began from the observation that there was something unique about the gleaming metropolises of East Asia, which existing theories of urban development did not account for.  No doubt influenced by my early training as an architect and my experiences of living and working in East Asia, this study is a result of the personal and scholarly curiosity I felt around the phenomenon of what architectural critic Jeffrey Kipnis aptly termed “The New Asian City”—in all of its dimensions.

In terms of disciplines, the book engages with the field of urban studies to answer the question of how this particular urban form came about, at the same time it draws on my training in literary studies and theoretical work from such fields as Critical Geography (which interrogates spatial systems produced by capitalism) and Postcolonial Studies (the study of the cultural politics that are a legacy of imperialism and colonialism).  Rather than focus on a single country—as is the approach of much of Asian Studies scholarship—the book’s method is emphatically comparative.  I aimed to produce an inter-Asian dialogue rather than one that was implicitly East-West in its framing.

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