The New Asian City
Three-Dimensional Fictions of Space and Urban Form
Publication Year: 2011
Under Jini Kim Watson’s scrutiny, the Asian Tiger metropolises of Seoul, Taipei, and Singapore reveal a surprising residue of the colonial environment. Drawing on a wide array of literary, filmic, and political works, and juxtaposing close readings of the built environment, Watson demonstrates how processes of migration and construction in the hypergrowth urbanscapes of the Pacific Rim crystallize the psychic and political dramas of their colonized past and globalized present.
Examining how newly constructed spaces—including expressways, high-rises, factory zones, department stores, and government buildings—become figured within fictional and political texts uncovers how massive transformations of citizenries and cities were rationalized, perceived, and fictionalized. Watson shows how literature, film, and poetry have described and challenged contemporary Asian metropolises, especially around the formation of gendered and laboring subjects in these new spaces. She suggests that by embracing the postwar growth-at-any-cost imperative, they have buttressed the nationalist enterprise along neocolonial lines.
The New Asian City provides an innovative approach to how we might better understand the gleaming metropolises of the Pacific Rim. In doing so, it demonstrates how reading cultural production in conjunction with built environments can enrich our knowledge of the lived consequences of rapid economic and urban development.
Published by: University of Minnesota Press
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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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Note on Romanization
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In general I used the Pinyin (for Chinese) and McCune-Reischauer (forKorean) Romanization systems. Exceptions are made for proper namesmore commonly known by other Romanization forms, for example, ParkChung Hee (not Pak Chŏng-hŭi). Similarly, I re tained variant spellingsof Chinese and Korean names, places, and terms (such as hsiang-t’u) if...
INTRODUCTION: The Production of Space in Singapore, Seoul, and Taipei
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With the recent industrial rise of China and India, the postwar success ofthe so-called Asian Tiger economies seems to have blurred into the moregeneral pattern of industrializing Asia. It is easy to forget, then, that an ear-lier generation of booming metropolises—including Seoul, Singapore, HongKong, and Taipei—were not always such gleaming beacons of develop-...
PART I: Colonial Cities
1 Imagining the Colonial City
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Where does one begin a spatial history of a city? Although Seoul, Taipei,and Singapore have had varying careers as major urban settlements, thischapter is devoted to excavating their spatial developments under colonialrule. If the Introduction posed the question of how a postcolonial countryattempts to develop from a subordinate position, how exactly is that sub-...
2 Orphans of Asia: Modernity and Colonial Literature
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In Yŏm Sang-sŏp’s novel Mansejŏn (Before the March st Movement)1—arguably the most complete representation of colonial Korea (or Chosŏn,as it was then known)—narrator Yi In-hwa is called back from his studiesin Japan by his wife’s serious illness. With little actual concern for his wife,he recounts his train trip south from Tokyo, the ferry ride to Pusan, and...
TRANSITION: Export Production and the Blank Slate
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Part , “Colonial Cities,” showed us how colonial urbanism was importantboth for the production and maintenance of the imperial system and forperceiving and unmasking its contradictions. The remaining two sectionsof the book deal with the postwar period, especially the mid-s tomid-s, the period of intense industrialization and urbanization of the...
PART II: Postwar Urbanism
3 Narratives of Human Growth versus Urban Renewal
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In related but distinct ways, expanding Seoul, Singapore, and Taiwan ofthe s and s share an urban aesthetic that owes much to the logicof the export-oriented production that fueled their economies. To exam-ine this aesthetic, I use two conceptual frames that deal with urban andliterary transformation, respectively. First, I address the question of dimen-...
4 The Disappearing Woman, Interiority, and Private Space
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In Kang Sŏk-kyŏng’s novella “A Room in the Woods” (“Supsok ŭiPang”), soon-to-be-married Mi-yang attempts to break through the appar-ent wall that encases her younger sister, So-yang. Written in the thick ofSouth Korea’s democratizing movement, which challenged military rulein , it may be read as the tragic story of So-yang, whose failure “to find...
TRANSITION: Roads, Railways, and Bridges: Arteries of the Nation
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As the last section has shown, the rise of the much-applauded Asia Pacificmiracle economies cannot be understood without acknowledging the waysthey reorganized their productive systems through urbanization and theeﬀects this had on laboring and gendered subjectivities. Moving away fromthe question of individual reconciliation with the spatial logic of tabula...
PART III: Industrializing Landscapes
5 The Way Ahead: The Politics and Poetics of Singapore’s Developmental Landscape
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In January , senior minister Lee Kuan Yew undertook a whirlwind tourof independent African states in order to win support for his new country,Malaysia, which had incorporated Singapore, Sabah (British North Bor-neo), and Sarawak into the Federation of Malaya in . In this periodof emerging postcolonial statehood, recognition of Malaysia by African...
6 Mobility and Migration in Taiwanese New Cinema
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Expressions of statist modernization ideology in Kuomintang (KMT)-controlled Taiwan parallel much of what we have seen in Singapore.However, the comparison to Lee Kuan Yew is complicated by the fact thatChiang Kai-shek’s speeches and writings were almost entirely negative infocus: Edwin Winckler writes that the KMT’s “main positive state cultural...
7 The Redemptive Realism of Korean Minjung Literature
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The growth of transport systems and the allure of movement is a power-ful metaphor for several reasons, not least being the actual reduction in anation’s size. All three New Asian City nations, in fact, became unwillingislands between and . Under the Kuomintang, Taiwan was con-tentiously severed (again) from the mainland, provoking to this day compet-...
CONCLUSION: Too Late, Too Soon: Globalization and New Asian Cities
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The year saw the first democratic elections in South Korea, pavingthe way for the election of the first civilian president Kim Young-Sam in. In Taiwan, the island’s first nonmainlander leader, Lee Teng-hui, waselected president in , a year after the end of nearly forty years of mar-tial law, and in the first non-Kuomintang leader, Chen Shui-bian, was...
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It is a pleasure to thank the many people and institutions that have madethis book possible. The original research and first version was written whileat Duke University, and I am deeply indebted to the fine teaching andintellectual environment of the graduate program in literature. My tirelessdissertation director, Ranjana Khanna, introduced me to the rigors of fem-...
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About the Author
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Jini Kim Watson is assistant professor of English and comparative...
Page Count: 312
Publication Year: 2011