The construction of a war-time national identity : the Japanese Pavilion at New York's World's Fair, 1939/40
Japanese Pavilion at New York's World's Fair, 1939/40
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The period between the mid-nineteenth century and World War II was the age of international expositions for the countries of the European and American continents. Events were launched every few years in various cities, in order to demonstrate the level of cultural sophistication or technological advancement. The predominate ways in which these events have been studied are: as stages for the display of technology and design; as sites for the manifestation of imperialism and colonial authority; and as vehicles for studying culture of the host and participating countries. Little has been written from the political point of view concerning governmental strategies in foreign relations, which is surprising given the international nature of the events. This thesis examines one particular national pavilion presented by Japan at the New York World's Fair 1939140 from multiple perspectives, to reveal different intentions behind its planning and design. By drawing upon archival records and the condition of pre-war foreign relations, it argues that the pavilion design was a result of the political strategy of the Japanese government in apprehension of World War II. The pavilion is not the work of an acclaimed architect, and has been considered of little significance in the history of modem Japanese architecture. This thesis explores the reasons for this negative reception through an examination of movements and debates among architects of the 1930s - a decade in which the entire intellectual climate of Japan was focused upon the search for a modem Japanese identity. This thesis attempts to bring to light the significance of an architectural work usually neglected in historical texts often written in a way which laud the architect as the fountainhead of architecture. Other forces which come into play in the creation of architecture demonstrate that, in interpreting a single building, various perspectives yield a fuller picture. My emphasis is on the political perspective - on the strained international situation in the years when the New York World's Fair was held.
Thesis (M.S.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Architecture, 1997.Includes bibliographical references.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Architecture
Massachusetts Institute of Technology