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Title: Mythical Journeys: Ethnography, Archaeology, and the Attraction of Tribal Cultures in the Work of Aldo van Eyck and Herman Haan
Authors: Jaschke, Karin
Advisors: Colomina, Beatriz
Papapetros, Spyros
Contributors: Architecture Department
Keywords: CIAM
Dutch Architecture
Team 10
Subjects: Architecture
Issue Date: 2012
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation maps the ethnographic and archaeological work of the Dutch architects Aldo van Eyck and Herman Haan between 1947 and 1967, including van Eyck's writings, editorial work, and encounter with the sub-Saharan Dogon people, and Haan's expeditions and ethnographic exhibitions. It examines these engagements and the concepts and ideas that went with them in the context of the architectural discourse within CIAM, Team X, and the architects' Dutch circle, in particular the journal Forum, and the late-colonial situation in which they unfolded. The dissertation shows how the architects' critical stance towards Western architecture and society found expression in their fascination with tribal African and other traditional, non-Western cultures or, a late-modern primitivism; but also that this went hand-in-hand with the desire for factual knowledge and anthropological insights and an important new relationship between architecture and the humanities. To the architectural debate, Haan's and van Eyck's ethnographic studies contributed examples of collective building practices and forms of dwelling, and symbolic and plastic formal languages while anthropological explanations shed light on the relationship between social and built structures. The dissertation shows that the particular significance of their work lay in Haan's enactment of a performative model of inhabitation, through his practical work, and in van Eyck's formulation of a relational, mythopoeic model of thought and practice, built on his concepts of 'relativity', the 'elementary', and the notion of the visual and mental 'image' as an agent of cultural change and intercultural communication. What is at stake in their work is the introduction of new forms of practice, with Haan in particular pushing the boundaries of architectural investigation, and the extension of the architectural canon to non-Western conceptions of building. Against the background of postwar humanist and humanitarian aspirations, both architects moreover brought ethical-political concerns over the impact of Western hegemonic regimes on traditional societies to the architectural debate even while their own engagements were fraught with tension and ambiguity, regarding the Eurocentric nature of the work and the difficulties of coming to terms with the condition of modernity. By accounting for the historical development and conceptual significance of Haan's and van Eyck's work, this study contributes new insights into the history of 'other modernisms' in a challenge to more canonical accounts of modern architecture, and expands the historiography of modern architecture's role in non-Western countries and cultures, including what the dissertation has labeled the 'ethnographic turn' in postwar architecture in which van Eyck and Haan played key roles.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Architecture

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