Tuesday, 29 October 2013

we fetishize the national boundary

From the lecture 10 of the MITx course 4.605x, A Global History of Architecture, by Professor Mark Jarzombek (Fall 2013):
One thing you can get from this course is why all the maps in your book are wrong, except in our book. So this is not right. I mean, it’s not wrong, just completely useless. I mean, who really cares if the Qin was here or there or there — the point is, what do we learn from maps? What can maps tell us about connections and connectivity? It’s not about national boundaries. In our modern world we’re obsessed. We fetishize the national boundary, because of certain tropes of international law. This was not necessarily the case in the earlier time. Yes, boundaries were important. But to do history is not about the history of the nation, national boundaries. History is about certain connections and how countries or nations rise and fall, or certain dynamics that go across region and across time.
So the Shang had five capitals. And as they got power, they moved the capital to particular places. And then as they lost power, they moved the capital to another place. And of course, with that huge populations had to move with them. Because all the bureaucrats and all the whole regime — it’s like saying, when Bush became president, the capital would move then to Texas. So you would have to build the capital, and then thousands and thousands of people would have to go down to Texas. And then comes another president and will have to build a new capital in Arkansas or Nevada or wherever. We’d be continuously building capitals and reusing them. And then of course, when Obama came in, he would burn Bush’s capital down. And then build a new one in Chicago. And then everyone would have to move up to Chicago.

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