Modernity’s Other

Kah Wee Lee, Lawrence Chua

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialpeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The four essays in this special section feature recent work in South East Asian architectural and urban history that de-centres the nation-state as the primary subject of history by disclosing what has been excluded from or hidden in the grand narratives of nationalism. Responding to calls to move away from the geographical boundedness of Area Studies while stimulating interdisciplinary dialogue, it positions the built environment as a common archive used by scholars across disciplines to examine the buildings and spaces that accompany and structure everyday life. Infrastructure, informal settlements and ephemeral shrines occupy the attention of these scholars, while palaces and monuments–the privileged architectural leitmotifs of progress and development–are read against the grain to disclose their hidden violence. Together, they point not only to the cultural diversity of South East Asia that lies hidden beneath the veneer of the nation-state, but also open up new ways of studying the complex relations that underlie the seemingly solid facades of the built environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-119
Number of pages9
JournalSouth East Asia Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2 2020


  • Architecture
  • Indonesia
  • Malaysia
  • Singapore
  • Thailand
  • archive
  • built environment
  • historiography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Political Science and International Relations


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