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Toward Postcolonial Openings: Rereading Sir Banister Fletcher's "History of Architecture" Author(s): Gülsüm

Toward Postcolonial Openings: Rereading Sir Banister Fletcher's "History of Architecture" Author(s): Gülsüm Baydar and Nalbantoḡlu Source: Assemblage, No. 35 (Apr., 1998), pp. 6-17 Published by: The MIT Press

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1.

"Treeof Architecture," fron-

tispiece of SirBanister Fletcher,

A History of Architecture on

the Comparative Method for

Student Craftsman, and

Amateur, sixteenth edition,

the

1954

Giilstim BaydarNalbantoglu teaches

history and design at Bilkent University,

Ankara,Turkey. She is the coeditor of Postcolonial Space(s) (Princeton Archi-

tectural Press, 1997).

Assemblage 35: 6-17 ?

MassachusettsInstitute of Technology

1998 by the

Guilsuim

Baydar

Nalbantoglu

Toward

Openings:

Sir

Banister

History

of

Postcolonial

Rereading

Fletcher's

Architecture

And this world takes place neither simply inside you nor outside

you. It passes from inside to outside, from outside to inside your

being. In which should be based the verypossibility of dwelling.

Luce Irigaray, Elemental Passions'

The twentieth edition of Sir Banister Fletcher's monumen-

talA Historyof Architectureon the Comparative Method for the Student Craftsman, and Amateur appeared in 1996 and

marked the book's one hundredth year of publication. By

all standards, History of Architecture has been a canonical

text that has played a formative role in the history educa-

tion of generations of architects in English-speaking insti- tutions. There is something uniquely remarkable about

Fletcher's text: unlike other monumental histories (for ex-

ample, those by Fisher von Erlach or James Fergusson)

that now lend themselves predominantly to historiographi-

cal analysis, it has been continuously "updated" to preserve

its "original" purpose to be one of the most comprehensive surveys of world architecture. The preface to the twentieth

edition reads:

The central aim behind this edition reflects and continues cer- tain of the key directions established in the nineteenth edition. The scope has been widened to include more coverage of ar- chitecture from non-European regions and to contain more information about vernacularbuildings and engineered struc- tures and works by architect/engineers such as bridges and for-

7

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tifications.Thereis alsomoreattention paid, in the partdealing withthe twentieth century, to urban design.2

More non-Europeancoverage, morevernacular buildings, more engineering structures, and moreattentionto contem- porarydesign: Had it not been for the omission of more

women architects, the twentieth edition of Fletcher'sbook would have been considered most appropriately reformed based on the concerns of the late twentieth century. The

final edition bears testimony to the fact that, at least considerablefractionof architectural historians, the

canonical statussurvives -

prehensiveness achieved by A Historyof Architecture.3 As I tracevariouseditorial changes to Fletcher's originaltext, however, I discoverthat although the latestedition marks

only a quantitativeexpansion in geographicalcoverage compared to the previousone, the book had seen a number of significant structural changes prior to that.

Until the

had been

fourth edition, however,appeared with an important differ- ence: This time the bookwasdividedinto two sections, "The

Historical Styles," which coveredall the materialfromear- lier editions, and "TheNon-Historical Styles," which in-

cluded Indian,Chinese, Japanese, Central American, and Saracenicarchitecture. Curiously, in the posthumouslypub- lished seventeenthedition of 1961, the two parts were re- named "AncientArchitectureand the WesternSuccession"

and "Architecturein the East,"respectively. The nineteenth edition of 1987, on the other hand, consistedof seven parts basedon chronology and geographical location. Cultures outside of Europe included "TheArchitectureof the Pre- Colonial Culturesoutside Europe" and "TheArchitecture of the Colonial and Post-ColonialPeriodsoutside Europe."

fora

book's

com-

not surprisinggiven the

fourthedition of 1901, A History of Architecture

a relatively modest survey of Europeanstyles. The

Why the restless change in names?What is so (dis)com- forting about naming the other?As I work through these

assemblage 35

questions,my initial reaction against Fletcher's original cat- egorization of"nonhistorical styles" takesa differentturn.As I discoverthe text(s), I begin to see thatwhatis at stakehere is not merely the boundary betweenWesternarchitecture and its outside, but also betweenarchitectureand its outside; betweenarchitectureand nonarchitecture.The latterissue has also been addressed by KarenBurnsand othersin the contextof Westernarchitectural thought.4 In "Architecture:

That Dangerous Useless Supplement," Burnsfocuseson how the category of building is constitutedas "a space continually invokedas outsidearchitecture'sown internal space."5 She surfacesthe tenuous natureof the inside/outside boundary of architecture by thinking architectureas an identitycategory and signification ratherthana stableand secureautonomous entity. I argue thathistoricalconstructionsof the non-West

figure at the precariousboundary of (Western) architecture's presumed inside. Moreover, as Fletcher'stext discloses,they areremindersof the precarious natureof that veryboundary.

My questions multiply: What are the mechanisms that define the inside and the outside of architectureand how do they operate? How are architecturalboundariescon- structedand on what basis?These are large questions that

continuously define and redefine Fletcher's, his successors' and my spaces of writing.Architecture, as a fixed category, becomes a burden. I discover how, through Fletcher'sand his successors'work, the boundary between the inner and outer worldsof architectureis carefully maintainedfor the

purposes of disciplinaryregulation and control. Working

with and

the need to constructa seamless boundary to retainthe dis- tinct natureof the inner and outer realmsof the discipline.

through Fletcher's text, I discoverthat he knew

As I traceFletcher'sworld history, I recognize instances that gesture toward something differentthan Western architecture'stired insistence on constituting the norm; the so-called canon. These isolated instances, I shall argue,

8

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suggeststrategies to postcolonial discoursesin architecture based on negotiations of incommensurabledifferencesbe-

tween architecturalcultures -

far beyond Fletcher's aims and scope. Stephen

Cairns makesa similar suggestion in his analysis of the Javanese house. Based on

the historianWolff

Schoemaker'sdenial of architecturalstatusto the Javanese

house, Cairns points to the possibility of reconceiving an architectureof radicaldifference.' Fletcher'sand his suc- cessors'textsmobilize further questions by the waysthey in- corporate non-Westernarchitecturesinto their own textual frameworks:How does the inner/outer binary of architec- turaldiscoursearticulatewith the cultural/geographical bi- nary of West/non-West?How do disciplinary boundaries

negotiate with geographical, cultural, and political ones?

that is

an entirely differentend

historiographical

And, as you

alreadyuttered, words

never yetimagined,unique in yourtongue, to name you

alone,youkept on prying me open,

Honing and sharpeningyourinstrument, till itwasalmost imper-

ceptible,piercing further into my

wantedwordsotherthanthose

and

you

furtherandfurther open.

silence.

Irigaray, Elemental Passions7

Let me workcloser with Fletcher. Coined in his fourthedi- tion of A Historyof Architecture, the term "Non-Historical Styles" referredto

thoseother styles - can, andSaracenic-

Artandexercisedlittledirectinfluenceon it

historical styles can

point of viewasthoseof Europe, whichhave progressedby the

successivesolutionof

overcome; forin the Eastdecorativeschemesseem

have outweighed all other considerations, andin thiswould

pear to

Non-HistoricalArchitecture.'

lie the mainessentialdifferencesbetweenHistoricaland

Indian,Chinese,Japanese, CentralAmeri- whichremaineddetachedfromWestern

Thesenon-

scarcely be as interesting froman architect's

construction problems,resolutely metand

generally to

ap-

Why, I ask, should"A History of Architecture"include "nonhistorical architecture"in the first place?Why would

Nalbantoglu

properhistory desireitslack?The frontispiece of Fletcher's book depicts a treethat"showsthe main growth or evolution of the various styles." The "Treeof Architecture"hasa very solid upright trunkthatis inscribedwiththe namesof Euro- pean styles and thatbranchesout to hold various cultural/geo- graphical locations.The nonhistorical styles, which unlike othersremain undated,are supportedby the "Western"trunk

of the treewith no roomto growbeyond the seventh-century mark. European architectureis the visible support for

nonhistorical styles. Nonhistorical styles,groupedtogether, aredecorative additions,theysupplement the properhistory of architecturethatis basedon the logic of construction.

It seems strange that Fletcher valorizesand disqualifies non-Europeanstyles at the same time. "A history of world's architecturewould be incomplete," he says, if he did not review "those other styles." Yet a history of Westernarchi- tecture, which ought to lack nothing at all in itself, should

not require to be supplemented. It seems paradoxical that the desire to be comprehensive and complete carriesin it- self the destiny of its non-satisfaction.Let me returnto the

notion of the supplement, in the sense that Jacques Derrida exploits the term. According to him, the supplement is

both an

addition, an excess, and a substitutethat points to a

lack in the originalentity. "Whetherit addsor substitutes itself," contends Derrida, "the supplement is exterior, out- side of the positivity to which it is super-added, alien to that which, in orderto be replacedby it, must be other than it."'' For Fletcher, nonhistorical styles are at once in excess of the conditions of Western history and point to a lack in the essentiallycomplete history of Westernarchitecture. When they are added on, architectural history becomes

both better (complete) and worse (impure).

Like all identities, "Westernarchitecture"and "historical styles" are constructsconstituted through the force of exclu- sion. These are termsthat produce a constitutiveoutside as

9

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the condition of their existence. The "non"of nonhistorical styles bearsthe markof externality. Their reentry into the history of architecture then, points to their role as supple- ment. "Nonhistorical styles" are signs that are allowed entry

to fill up a void. They point to a deficiency in the originary space and yet they are alien to thatwhich they replace.

Fletcher'snarrative inadvertentlycomplicates the plenitude that is constructed by the precarious alliance of the terms "architecture"and "Westernarchitecture."

Fletcher superimposes the historical/nonhistoricaland West/Eastdichotomies with anotherfamiliar binarycatego- rizationof the architectural discipline: structure/ornament. He opposes the "successiveresolutionof constructive prob- lems," which characterizedWesternarchitectural history, to the "decorativeschemes"of the East, which "outweighed all other considerations."Familiar indeed, for at leastsince Alberti'sDe re aedificatoria ornamenthas been relegated an inferiorstatusin Westernarchitecture.It has been associ-

ated with dishonesty,impurity, and excessivenessas op- posed to the essentialnatureof structure. My argument is that in Fletcher's discourse, the seemingly culturalbasisof

the East/West categorizationrepresses an ambivalence about the definition and limits of the architecturaldisci-

pline.

duction to the nonhistorical styles:

Easternart presentsmany featuresto which

customed, andwhichthereforeoftenstrikethemas

Europeans areunac-

Fletcher statesin an unexpectedly apologetic intro-

many formswhichto us

unpleasing

nature,

verge on the

or bizarre; butit mustbe rememberedthatuseis second

and, in considering the

grotesque we mustmakeallowanceforthatessentialdifference

betweenEastand West.'11

It seems interesting that Fletcher momentarilysuspends his authorial position in these statements.It is the Europeans who are unaccustomed to Eastern art, which strikesthemas unpleasing and bizarre.The potential critical distancing

dissolves,however, when he goes on to his analysis of the

assemblage 35

nonhistorical styles. He then readily concurs that ornament

is acceptable only when it is subordinate to, or in the ser-

vice of, structure. Overly elaborate decoration, excessive

ornamentation is to be relegated to the grotesque." In a

strikingly vivid account of Saracenic ornament, for ex-

ample, Fletcher explains:

The craftsmanwho added the typically Saracenic detail had an almost limitless scope in the combination and permutation of lines and curves, which crossed and recrossedand were laid one over the other, till nothing of the underlyingframework was

recognisable. There was a restlessness,too, in their decorative

style,

spirit that recognised perfection in simplicity and was content to

let a

cacy instead of simplicity: there are bracketsof such tortured forms as to be constructively useless and of such elaborate deco-

ration as to be grotesque.l'

a strivingafter excesswhich is in contrastto the Greek

fine line tell its own tale. Thus we find everywhere intri-

On Jaina architecture:

Sculptured ornament of grotesque and symbolic design, bewil-

dering in its richness,

plain wall surface and differing essentially from European art."1

covers the whole

structure, leaving little

Then again, on Hindu architecture:

This varies in its three local styles, but all have the small

'vimana' or shrine-cell and entrance porch,

with the excessive

carving and sculpture

The grandeur of

their [Brahman

imposing mass produces an impression of majestic

beauty,

surface ornament, ratherthan on abstract beauty of form, in

strong contrastto Greek architecture.14

temples]

but the effect depends almost wholly on elaboration of

I am interested in Fletcher's simultaneous fascination and

disdain for non-Western architectures. In his narrative con-

struction, Western architecture is faced with what-it-is-not;

non-Western architecture is the symptom of Western ar-

chitecture. I use the term "symptom" as it is explained by

Slavoj Zizek: "If

articulated in the late Lacan -

namely, as a particular sig-

nifying formation which confers on the subject its very on-

we conceive

the symptom as it was

10

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tological consistency, enabling it to structureits basic, con-

stitutive relationship towards jouissance -

relationship[between subject and symptom] is reversed:if the symptom is dissolved, the subject itself loses the ground

under its feet, disintegrates."'' What is important for me here is the dimension of enjoyment (jouissance) in the

symptom. And indeed, Fletcher exposes a momentary enjoyment in such expressions as the "bewildering rich- ness"of Jaina architectureand the "majesticbeauty" of the Brahman temples. He cannot recoverfull pleasure from these as that would mean to admit the loss of Western architecture'sself-identification.Hence he revertsto other

termsthat complicate his argument in interestingways.

"Excessive"and "grotesque" aretermsthat appearagain and again in Fletcher's analysis to indicateundesirable exaggera-

tion.

lines and curvesin Saracenicdecorationthatcrossand re-

crosstill the underlying frameworkis totally writtenover. Structure, what gives life to Fletcher's history, is devoured by

ornament.The visible boundary that separates structurefrom ornamenthas disappeared and has given riseto the unaccept-

able, the grotesque.1" Fletcher's eyes aretroubledsince they cannot peel off the ornamentto revealwhatis behind. What causeshis unease, I would argue, is not the reversionof the structure/ornament pairwhereby, in his non-Westernex-

amples, the second takesthe dominantrole:it is the arability of the two. MikhailBakhtin suggests thatin

grotesque,displeasure is caused by the impossible and im- probable natureof the image.'" In architecture, the negation

of structureis unimaginable. Yet in

the architectural object, defined by structure, transgresses its

own confines, ceasesto be itself.The demarcationbetween structureand ornamentis dissolved.Reasonis threatened.

Beauty becomes unacceptable when it cannotbe ordered by reason.Bakhtin's point, however, is thatthere is a productive ambivalencein the grotesque and hence it cannotbe seen

then the entire

He is equally excitedand disturbedat the sight of the

insep-

the

the grotesqueimagery,

NalbantoIlu

TABLE

OF THE

COMPARATIVE SYSTEM

FOR

1. Influences.

EACH

STYLE

I. GEOGRAPHICAL.

II. GEOLOGICAL.

III. CLIMATIC.

IV. RELIGIOUS.

v. SOCIAL.

vI. HISTORICAL.

2. ArchitecturalCharacter.

3. Examples.

4. ComparativeAnalysis.

A.

B.

c.

D.

E.

Plans,or generalarrangementof buildings.

Walls, theirconstructionand treatment.

Openings, theircharacterand shape.

Roofs, theirtreatmentand

development.

Columns,their position,structure,anddecoration.

F. Mouldings, their form and decoration.

G. Ornament,as applied in general to any building.

5. ReferenceBooks.

2. "Comparativesystem for each style"

merely as a negation. In the grotesque, he maintains, the life of one is bornfromthe deathof another:"The grotesque

body

ished, never completed; it is continuallybuilt,

buildsand createsanother body."'8 Is it possible,then, that nonhistorical styles create possibilities of anotherarchitec-

ture/architectural history that glares at us

that Fletcher inadvertentlyexposes in his

On the relationbetween architecturaltextsand buildings, Mark Wigley argues that"therole of the text is to provide the ruleswith which the building can be controlled, regula- tions which define the place of everypart and control every

surface."'' So far, I

text that surfacea desirethatexceeds the bounds of regula-

is a body in the act of becoming. It is neverfin-

created, and

fromthe cracks

own analysis?

have focused on aspects of

Fletcher's

11

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tion and control.As I read it, his discourseis caught up in the tension between the desirefor pleasure and the demand to controlfor self-preservation. The latter appears in very ex- plicit terms.Fletcher'stext is structured by whathe calls a

"comparativesystem foreach style." This is an astoundingly comprehensivesystem that controlsand regulatesevery sec- tion in the book.What I find interesting is how Fletcher

exposes the disciplinarypower of his system:

In considering the many formswhichto us verge on the gro-

tesque we mustmakeallowanceforthatessential difference be-

tweenEastandWestwhichis furtheraccentuatedin

purely Easternarchitecture by those religious observancesandsocial

customs of which, in accordancewith our usual method, we shall take due cognizance.2"0

Fletcher recognizes that what appears"unpleasing or bi- zarre"to Europeaneyes can be made comprehensible by a particular method of analysis. The self-consciously dis- tanced grip of Fletcher'smethod tames the nonhistorical stylesby submitting them to the same frameworkof archi- tectural analysis as the Westernones. Not only Eastand West but also Indian and Chinese and Renaissanceand modern turn into conveniently commensurableand hence

comparablecategories. Fletcher'stext is clearly marked by the nineteenth-century interestin the non-West, which carriesthe double burden of curiosity and control.2"His

totalizinghistory,however, bearsthe markof its own impos- sibility; his gaze witnessesits own historiographical violence prior to his appropriation of the non-West into his com- parative method.2 What I am interestedin here is not the criticismof Fletcher'smethod per se, but his momentary recognition of how his frameworkviolates difference; how

the writing of history makes history.

Couldit be thatwhat you haveis just the frame, notthe

Nota bondwiththeearthbut merely thisfencethat you set up,

implant wherever you can?Youmarkoutboundaries,drawlines,

property?

assemblage 35

surround, enclose. Excising,cutting out. Whatis your fear?That

youmight lose yourproperty. Whatremainsis an empty frame.

You cling to it, dead.

Irigaray, Elemental Passions2

In 1961 R.A. Cordingley, who revisedFletcher'sbook for its seventeenth edition, made a fundamental change in the outline of the book by, as noted above, renaming the two main sections "AncientArchitectureand the Western Suc- cession"and "Architecturein the East."The scandalof nonhistoricity is erased.Eastand West are turned into

seemingly neutral geographicalcategories.Cordingley ex- plains: "The former general heading [The Non-Historical

Styles] forPartII was anomalous; thearchitecturesofthe

Eastare just ashistoricalasthoseofthe West."'24

seemsto be the most obviouslyproper statementfroma his- torian unexpectedly violatesthehiddenambivalenceof Fletcher's premises. In revising the book,Cordingley com- pletely rewrotethe introductionto thesecond part and turnedit intoa briefhistoricalaccountof the geography of Eastern styles. Allreferencesto the grotesque, to theexces- sivenessof ornamentation, to impropriety, to the unaccus- tomed Europeans, andthe qualifications of unpleasing and bizarreareerased.I would argue thatin trying to eliminate

Fletcher's seeminglynegativequalifications forthe East, Cordingley erasedalltracesof potentially critical openings in theearlierversion.

The two succeeding editionsintroducedfurther changes. In 1975 James Palmeseliminatedallbroadclassifications and provided a straight runof fortychapters.2 Following thefirst chapter on Egyptian architecture,eightchapters coverall thenon-Westernsections.The "pure"continuity

of Western styles fromancient Greece to the twentieth century is preserved. Non-Westernsections are almost rel-

egated a "pre-Western" status.Yetthisis notthe resultof a chronologicallogic to the outline,since, for example, the sectionon IndiaandPakistanstretchesto the eighteenth

Yetwhat

12

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century. Palmes gives no explanations for his changes how- ever, and the formatwas again changed in 1984, when John Musgrovepublished the nineteenth edition of the book.26

Musgrove's sections are strictlychronological. Three of the seven parts cover non-Westernarchitectures: partsthree, four, and seven, entitled, respectively, "TheArchitectureof Islam and EarlyRussia," "TheArchitectureof the Pre-Colo- nial Cultures outside Europe," and "TheArchitectureof the Colonial and Post-ColonialPeriodsoutside Europe."2 For the first time, "TheArchitectureof the Twentieth

Century" covers Africa,China, Japan, and South and South-EastAsia together with Western Europe.

Both Palmes'sand Musgrove's revisionsof A Historyof Ar- chitectureconsolidate Cordingley'sresponse to Fletcher's

rename Fletcher's historical/ latereditions of his book are

classification.28 All attempts to

nonhistorical categories in the

attempts to overcomea fundamental difficulty thatFletcher

had discoveredand had quickly coveredover.The seem-

ingly innocent categories of West/East (geographical) and precolonial/postcolonial(chronological) do not disclose the ambiguities inherent in the loaded termshistoricaland

nonhistorical. Cordingley,Palmes,

what Fletcher had found problematic but had failed to

problematize. Their premises arebasedon cultural diversity ratherthan culturaldifference.Cultural diversity,according

and Musgrove normalize

to Homi Bhabha, is a category of comparative ethics and aes- thetics that emphasizes liberalnotions of multiculturalism

and cultural exchange. Cultural difference, on the other hand, "focuseson the problem of the ambivalenceof cul- tural authority: the attempt to dominate in the nameof a

cultural supremacy which is itself producedonly in the moment of differentiation."29Cordingley,Palmes, and Musgrove consolidateFletcher's framework,which, to be

sure, is also predominantly basedon cultural diversity but offers momentarypossibilities to think culturaldifference. The underlyingpremise in all fourversionsof the text is that

NalbantoIlu

culturescan be aligned on the same plane of reference; compared and contrasted by the tools of the historian.This multiculturalist approach comes fromwell-intentioned posi-

tions againstprejudice and stereotype. It covers over,how- ever, issuesof incommensurabledifferenceand problems of representation that prevail at every culturalencounter.

Fletcher'stextis multilayered and complex. At first sight, it displaysarrogant colonialism by naming non-Westernarchi- tecturalcultures"nonhistorical."This is the level by which his

successors engage with Fletcher, to correcthis prejudiced approach. Atanother level, by including non-Western

architecturesin his "comparativeapproach" he adopts a multiculturalist perspective, withall its inherent problems. This is the level wherehis successorscollaboratewithhim. They expand on Fletcher'stextand makeadditionsbasedon

latest archaeological and historical findings, but do not chal- lenge his comparative framework.I argue thatthereremains another way of engaging with Fletcher's text, capturing the briefmomentthatmakesit possible to thinkcultural/architec- tural difference. Fletcheroffersthis momentwhen he displays his uneasewithhis own approach; when he showsbothfasci- nationanddisdainforthe nonhistorical styles; when he speaks

ambivalently of the excess, the grotesque, the bizarre.The first and second historiographicalinstances, of arrogant denialand tamed equality, violatedifference:the firstin a blatantly obvi- ous way; the secondwiththe bestliberalintentions.The com- plicity betweenthesetwo seeminglyvery different approaches cannotbe overlooked, however.This is made strikingly obvi- ous in the librarycopy of Fletcher'ssixteentheditionthatI

havebeen working on, not byFletcher, but by an imprudent

previous reader.Asa markof apparentimpatience withthe de- rogatoryimplications of the term"nonhistorical styles," a blue markhascrossedout the term"non"fromthe title of the sec-

ond section -

Cordingley and his successorshaddone in a scholarly man- ner. Buthereviolencetakesa further step. I wasastonishedto

a crude replication, one mightsay, of what

13

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3. Anonymous reader's marks

seethesamebluemark appearing onthe facingpage, on top ofthe map of India, thistime crossing outtheword"Tibet"to replace itwith"China."The page staresatmeasa markerofa continuingquestion ofinclusionsand exclusions,representa- tionand naming. Italsoremindsmeofthe importance of

Derrida's proposal thatthe problem isnottoshowtheinterior- ity ofwhathadbeenbelievedasthe exterior, butrather"to

speculateupon the power of exteriority asconstitutiveof

interiority."•3

An opening of openness. Anencounterofcountriesandofclear- ingslaying outan other,others, whichcreate air,light, time. Thereis always more place, more places, unless they areimmedi- atelyappropriated.

Irigaray, Elemental Passions"3

assemblage 35

Asthetitleof my article suggests, andasI have implied

throughoutmyanalysis, a certain reading of Fletcher'stext

surfaces strategies to postcolonial discourse byway of rec- ognizing the impossibility of containing theotherin one's

owntermsof reference.Fletcher gestures towarda dis-

coursethatinvolvesthe staging of his positionality and

thatmarksdiscontinuities amongknowledges. He gestures

toward questions aboutthe validity of taking Westernhis-

tory asthe necessary normandthe measureof architec- tural judgment. I wantto emphasize,however, that my

reading of Fletcherhasbeen intentionallypartial. I have

only lookedatone aspect ofthework that, I think, has

critical significance in cultural representations

ture.I have not, for example, dealtwithFletcher's pre-

misesbasedon assumptions ofan autonomous,formal,

linear, and progressivehistory ofWesternarchitecture.

Then again,myanalysis isbasedon a particularreading of

theterm "architecture," notasana priori andself-evident

category butasa signification.32Only thencouldI begin to question the underlying claimsthathave supported

architecture's self-proclaimedautonomy -

"inside." Fletcher's survey does not, in anyway,provide

the paradigm forWestern historiography's treatmentof

non-Westernarchitectures.No workcantakeon sucha charge. It does,however, containa numberof threadsthat canbe productively woveninto larger issuesthataddress postcoloniality. Letme retracethese points withreference to Fletcherandfroma broader perspective.

Atone level, Fletcher'stextcontainstracesofawarenessof itsown textuality. Itshowsthat only a particular method-

ologicalrigor of thought, a textual framework, cancontain hisversionofa history ofworld architecture; but only ata

costof interpretive violence.Thisframeworkisa representa-

tionaltoolthatconsolidatesallreferenceand meaning in one's(in this case,nineteenth-century Western historiog- raphy's) own terms; itrefusesto recognize the irreducibility

in architec-

its presumed

14

This content downloaded from 189.217.158.42 on Sat, 6 Dec 2014 23:33:13 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

of the otherto the termsof the self. Cordingley, Palmes, and Musgrove do exactly this by erasing all tracesof ambivalence fromthe earliertext. They subject an entireworld history of

architectureinto a singularmachinery that eventually re- duces all differenceto chronology and geography. In his analysis of non-Western architectures, Fletcherintroduces his readersto such termsas nonhistoricaland grotesque, which disturbthe logos of his text.He exposes whatexceeds and cannotbe contained by his framework.He usesterms thatare impossible to assimilatein his logic but thatarenec- essary for it to function. Non-Westernarchitecturesexertan unsettling force on the apparent claimsand concernsof Fletcher's enterprise. In doing so, they enable him to surface

enjoyment and desire; elements customarilysuppressedby

disciplinaryregulations and control. Furthermore, Fletcher

straightforwardly declareshis subjectposition -

ernerand as a scholar-

turalcultures.Awarenessis a necessary but not sufficient

condition

you make it your tasknot only to learnwhatis going on there

[outside the Western centers]throughlanguage,throughspe- cific programs of study, but also at the same time through a

historical critique of yourposition as the investigatingperson, then you will see that you have earnedthe right to criticize, and you will be heard.""The question here is not, who is entitledto writeaboutwhat?The issue of cultural represen-

tationcannot simply be reducedto Westernscholars writing theirown

of enunciationare irreducibleto nationality,ethnicity, or race.Yet representingothers, speaking in the name of others, is a problem, and as Spivak reminds us, "ithas to be kept

alive as a problem."14 What I find interesting in Fletcheris thathe "points to"the problem in explicitways.

as a West-

in naming non-Westernarchitec-

of critique, however.As GayatriSpivakargues, "if

thatof Westernor non-

history. Ethical positions

Lastly, on categorization: Is it at all possible to speak of the non-Westas a category as opposed to the West? Is it pos-

sible to speak of a postcolonial experience, approach,

Nalbantolu

theory?And, then again, is it possible to speak of an inside and an outside to architecture?Or do these categories con- sist of historically constituted relationaltermsmade in and

throughlanguage?My reading of

book attempts to understandhow the category of the non- West is produced and restrained by a particular threadin

Western historiography. The same categoryoperates in very different ways in other historiographicalapproachesor, say, regionalist discourses. Similarly, the (post)colonialexperi- ences of Africa,Asia, and South and CentralAmericahave not held the same position in relationto any given center.35 And architecturehas not had a clearly demarcatedinside and outside. I am not making the impossible suggestion of

simply ignoring these categories and binary constructs.The boundariesthat demarcatethem, however, "aremuch more porous and less fixed and rigid than is commonly un- derstood, and one side of the borderis alwaysalready in-

fected by the other. Binarized categories offer possibilities of reconnections and realignment in different systems."