University of Illinois at Chicago
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Intertwined Genealogies: Dutch, Chinese, and Colonial Indonesian Architecture of Philanthropy, 1640-1740

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posted on 2020-05-01, 00:00 authored by Simon Hinman Wan
Intertwined genealogies are untold accounts of interactions, tensions, and hybridizations between multiple cultures of seeming incommensurability, as opposed to a single heroic nation, that are often embedded in the spatial artifacts of migrating populations. This dissertation is the first major study of colonial Indonesia’s almshouses, hospices, orphanages, and reformatories as architectural cases. It is also the first time that these buildings are examined alongside antecedents in the Netherlands and China. Through an analysis of overlapping developments in the Netherlands, China, and Indonesia, I argue that early modern Dutch and Chinese philanthropic establishments were built for the ruling class rather than the underclass. These establishments reflected the middle class’ exercise of disciplinary power. A critical aim is to consider Dutch and Chinese philanthropic establishments in broader terms that transcend the existing and mostly limited understanding of these sites as utilitarian spaces for the indigent. Inclusive of hospices that prefigured the modern hospital, reformatories that prefigured the modern prison, and orphanages that prefigured the modern public school, philanthropic establishments were a distinctively early modern category of civic landmarks. Their relevance stems from straddling and bridging two paradigms of power expression in the urban domain. On the one hand, philanthropic establishments saluted to the ruling class with impressive architectural works, like the premodern display of sovereign power. On the other hand, these were disciplinary programs molding society into a healthy, productive, and compliant mass, similar to governmental institutions of the industrialized world that did not generally occupy the community’s most prominent buildings. Overall, this dissertation suggests that philanthropic establishments of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries illustrate a particular moment, debatably the last and only time in history, when the pervasive force of disciplinary power had to be deliberately presented to the public through the visual medium of architecture.



Pollak, Martha


Pollak, Martha


Art History

Degree Grantor

University of Illinois at Chicago

Degree Level

  • Doctoral

Degree name

PhD, Doctor of Philosophy

Committee Member

Dubin, Nina Mekinda, Jonathan Akcan, Esra Borys, Ann Marie

Submitted date

May 2020

Thesis type



  • en