• The Orient of the East and the West of the Ocean: Ito Chuta's Pictorial Diaries and Rhetoric of World Architecture
    Vimalin Rujivacharakul

Ito Chuta, comparative drawing of the proportion of the Sphinx’s face and that of the Great Buddha statue in Japan. © Architectural Institute of Japan.

This project examines the concept of world architecture in early-twentieth-century Japan, with a focus on Ito Chuta (1867–1954), professor of architecture at the Imperial University of Tokyo. In 1902, Ito launched a three-year fieldtrip to explore architecture around the world. Upon his return, he began promoting the study of world architecture in conjunction with Oriental architecture. Close examinations of Ito's works, especially the pictorial diaries he completed during his trip, reveal that Ito endeavored to draw a new map of world architecture by removing Europe from the center and redefining Eurasia. In sum, this project studies Ito's perceptions of world architecture as a way to illuminate how the concept of world architecture was interpreted in East Asia at the turn of the twentieth century. Furthermore, by juxtaposing Ito's writings with his drawings in order to examine his thinking, The Orient of the East and the West of the Ocean also calls for a reexamination of the role of visual narrative in architectural history and intellectual history.

Vimalin Rujivacharakul is associate professor of the history of art and architecture at the University of Delaware. She received her PhD from the University of California, Berkeley (2006). Her works are situated at the crossroads of architectural history and intellectual history, with emphases on cultural constructs and forms of knowledge. She has also published on the exchange of knowledge between China and Europe, history of collecting, and theories of things and material culture. Her current research examines the construction of world architectural discourse. Her scholarship has been recognized with grants and fellowships from the Institute for Advanced Study, the Getty Research Institute, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Needham Research Institute, the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation, and the Graham Foundation. She is currently on research leave in Japan, under the auspice of the SSRC-JSPS fellowship.