Fabbrini, S. 2019. "Architecture and National Identity in Meiji Japan: What’s the Matter with the White City?". Open Journal of Humanities 2: 139-173.

Contributors:
  1. Sebastiano Fabbrini

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Category: Communication

Description: The following article focuses on Japan’s pavilion at the Columbian Exposition held in Chicago in 1893, exploring the interplay between political dynamics and architecture’s material culture. This building is a crossroad of multiple histories and embodies one of the most significant points of convergence between the architectural cultures of Japan, Europe and the United States at the end of the nineteenth century. The fulcrum of this historical convergence is the mobilization of architecture as a tool to establish national identity – a fundamental instrument in the process of nation-building. The transformations of Japan in the aftermath of the 1868 Meiji Restoration shine a light on the complexities and contradictions that accompany such politicization of architecture, negotiating both exogenous and endogenous forces. In this study, particular attention is devoted to the role that building materials played in this realignment, pointing to the tension between Japan’s millenary tradition of timber construction, the European myth of stone as a demonstration of power, and the ephemerality of the world’s fairs of the turn of the century, as evidenced by Chicago’s plaster exposition, also known as the White City.

License: CC-By Attribution 4.0 International

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The following article focuses on Japan’s pavilion at the Columbian Exposition held in Chicago in 1893, exploring the interplay between political dynamics and architecture’s material culture. This building is a crossroad of multiple histories and embodies one of the most significant points of convergence between the architectural cultures of Japan, Europe and the United States at the end of the nin...

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