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. "Invisible Geographies in the Study of Islamic Architecture." In International Journal of Islamic Architecture, Volume 5, Number 1 (pp. 29-35), edited by Mohammad Gharipour, Bristol: Intellect, 2016.
This article presents a series of ideas, a mosaic if you will, about the ways in which cultural tourism design conceives and presents places and how these are received and experienced. Starting with how individuals confront culture, where forms of tourism combine religious and social aspects, it considers the impact of those great contemporary equalizers – television and the internet – on the mechanisms through which we interpret the places we visit. Part of this mix entails the experience of place and the narratives presented by the native cultures to the visitor through the expression of (authentic?) places and architectures. These are illustrated by the manifestation of different types of hotels and resorts within four main rubrics: the vernacular resort evoking a sense of place; efficient place of business within the construct of modernism; the supra-real images of twenty-first century globalization; and the reference to the past through historic built environments. This essay outlines a chain of events in touristic architecture: from that of the design and production, its transmission and impact, to the interpretation of the object by architects and writers; and its impact on the receivers – the tourist being amongst them. Aided (or confused) by the new media, tourist architecture at its worst can be an excuse for the indulgence in neo-vernacular kitsch and the formulaic, but at its best may be viewed as aiding a process of self-definition – an exploration of cultural identity.