The value and meaning of temporality and Its relationship to identity in Kunming City, China

Gao, Yun and Temple, Nicholas (2018) The value and meaning of temporality and Its relationship to identity in Kunming City, China. In: Ancient and Modern Practices of Citizenship in Asia and the West: Care of the Self. Asian Studies . Amsterdam University Press, Amsterdam, pp. 193-218. ISBN 9789462986947


This chapter highlights the changing relationships between the city and its modes of representation through an examination of the historical transformations of Kunming, a city on the southwest border of China. Our intention is to introduce particular characteristics of urban space in Kunming as the basis for a more detailed examination of the historical differences between Western and Chinese perspectives of temporality in building, which will be explored in a forthcoming book, and how these differences are manifested in the changing social contexts of the city. This chapter demonstrates that changes in the territorialized districts of the traditional city of Kunming since the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912) constitute a movement towards modernization. Moreover, this development has given rise to a distinctive type of mercantile space within the city centre, with increasing importance attached to the commercial street. Importantly, this feature of the urban topography of Kunming can be seen as closely related to the surrounding mountains and lakes, both within and outside the old city boundaries that have served as primary reference points for Kunming’s urban planning. The study seeks to establish whether the traditional meanings of temporality in building, as manifested within the particular urban grain of Kunming, still inform contemporary urban and architectural practice, given that such relationships are often concealed beneath the homogeneous image of the temporal city.

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