Vernacular Dwellings of the Rakhaine Diaspora in Bangladesh: Decoloniality, Tropicality, Hybridity
Keywords:decolonizing vernacular architecture, postcolonial hybridity, tropical architecture, stilt houses, Rakhaine diaspora Bangladesh
Decolonization in tropical architecture upholds cultural identity and diversity in both its material and non-material forms. The Rakhaine, a diasporic ethnic minority in southern Bangladesh, migrated from the former Arakan state more than two centuries ago. They have gradually adapted their cultural way of life as well as their vernacular dwellings to their displaced context, especially in the last few decades. Their cultural identity shows a new dimension, which is termed hybridization in postcolonial discourses. Considering the above context, this research initially aims to understand the unique spatial-physical morphology of the Rakhaine's traditional stilt houses. Later, the study explores different influences behind the current hybridized transformation taking place in their vernacular dwelling. Through a qualitative case-study approach, an in-depth comparison of two dwellings was undertaken to document and understand both their traditional and hybridized aspects. Theoretically influenced by decoloniality, tropicality and hybridity, this study contributes to decolonial and postcolonial studies in tropical architecture and will be of interest to academics and professionals in understanding the unique in-betweenness of cultural hybridization of ethnic minorities in the South Asian and Southeast Asian contexts.
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