Hybrid Urbanism: On the Identity Discourse and the Built Environment

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Nezar AlSayyad
Greenwood Publishing Group, 2001 - Architecture - 258 pages
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Despite strong forces toward globalization, much of late 20th century urbanism demonstrates a movement toward cultural differentiation. Such factors as ethnicity and religious and cultural heritages have led to the concept of hybridity as a shaper of identity. Challenging the common assumption that hybrid peoples create hybrid places and hybrid places house hybrid people, this book suggests that hybrid environments do not always accommodate pluralistic tendencies or multicultural practices. In contrast to the standard position that hybrid space results from the merger of two cultures, the book introduces the concept of a third place and argues for a more sophisticated understanding of the principal.

In contributed chapters, the book provides case studies of the third place, enabling a comparative and transnational examination of the complexity of hybridity. The book is divided into two parts. Part one deals with pre-20th century examples of places that capture the intersection of modernity and hybridity. Part two considers equivalent sites in the late 20th century, demonstrating how hybridity has been a central feature of globalization.


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Page 6 - Hybridity has no such perspective of depth or truth to provide: it is not a third term that resolves the tension between two cultures, or the two scenes of the book, in a dialectical play of 'recognition'. The displacement from symbol to sign creates a crisis for any concept of authority based on a system of recognition: colonial specularity, doubly inscribed, does not produce a mirror where the self apprehends itself; it is always the split screen of the self and its doubling, the hybrid.

References to this book

Integral Urbanism
Nan Ellin
Limited preview - 2006
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About the author (2001)

NEZAR ALSAYYAD is Professor of Architecture and Planning and Chair of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of California--Berkeley. He has been director of the International Association for the Study of Traditional Environments and chief editor of its journal, Traditional Dwellings and Settlements Review since 1988. His published books include Cities and Caliphs (Greenwood, 1991) and Forms of Dominance (1993).

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