chapter  3
20 Pages

The cultural turn and urban development in Asia


Introduction and overview: framing urban Asia’s ‘cultural turn’ Culture has played significant developmental roles within the states and societies of East and Southeast Asia. At the level of the state, culture has shaped development in multiple ways: in the construction of national ideology and political values; in the establishment of social norms; and in the practice of economic agencies and actors. Culture in Asia is expressed both in formal and vernacular articulations which include religion, art, music, costume and literature, among others; and encompass myths, narratives and storytelling which provide cultural foundations of societies worldwide. But ‘culture’ also takes the form of (and is also recurrently shaped by) architecture, built form, space and place – with each embodying both concrete and representational values. We can acknowledge the enduring influence of ‘foundational’ or received cultural constructs on the shaping of physical, social and economic landscapes in the Asian realm (Ho and Kim 1997), but there are also developmental inflections shaped by migration, by the spatial diffusion of innovation, and, not least, by conquest, occupation and annexation.