Abidin Kusno is an architectural and urban historian with interests in sociology, anthropology, visual cultures, history, and politics, Dr. Kusno is exploring the historical and contemporary conditions of urban politics and city life in Indonesia. His research, which examines the roles of cities in shaping the political cultures of decolonization, nation building, and development, provides a cross-disciplinary approach to the study of space, power, and culture, and contributes to urban advocacy. He teaches at the Institute of Asian Research, University of British Columbia.
Dr. Kusno's involvement with the Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory includes the development of the slide library in the Visual Resources Centre, providing infrastructure for digitizing images. He has also been on the advisory committee for a number of graduate students in the department and teaches courses cross-listed with Art History and Asian Studies, such as “The City and the National Imagination.” His publications include: Behind the Postcolonial (Routledge, 2000) and The Appearances of Memory (Duke, 2010).
He obtained his PhD and MA in the Graduate Program in History and Theory of Art and Architecture from Binghamton University, State University of New York. His first degree was in Architecture obtained from Petra University, Surabaya, Indonesia. His areas of research interest are politics and cultures of urbanism in Indonesia/Asia and his geographical area of research focus is Indonesia.
Kusno, Abidin. "The Ruko: Changing Appearances and Associations of Shophouses in Urban Indonesia." In International Journal of Islamic Architecture, Volume 1, Number 2 (pp. 219-241), edited by Mohammad Gharipour, Bristol: Intellect, 2012.
This article explores the meanings of Chinese shophouses (known as ruko) within the dynamic socio-political and historical contexts of Indonesia. It argues that in order to fully understand this building type, it is necessary to move beyond its architectural characteristics or building typology and engage with the discourses of social perception and meaning production that define the thriving urban environment in Indonesia. Attentive to shifts in meanings across time, it shows how the structure of the ruko serves initially as a catalyst for political repression, then becomes a basis for economic recovery and finally serves as a site for identity formation. The article ultimately argues that studies of a building type should be more attentive to the negotiated relationship between architecture and identity and to the socio-political and cultural contestations within which the built environment is located.
Keywords: Chinese, Jakarta, identity, politics, shophouse