An Ethnic House Form at the Western Margins of Southeast Asia: The Elusive South Asian Stilt Architecture of the Chittagong Hill Tracts

Dilshad Rahat Ara, Mamun Rashid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Descriptive and somewhat elusive, sketchy historical notes exist for possible cultural links between ethnic people of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) of Bangladesh, South Asia, and ethnic people across the national borders in Southeast Asia. Yet, there is a curious lack of research that uses vernacular architecture or ethnic architectural building typology as a key tool to establish, or reiterate, the common proposition that CHT is the western fringe of a Southeast Asian cultural sphere. Historically, language has been a standard tool used by both colonial British rulers and a few anthropologists to consider the topic of reconstruction of cultural heritage in this geographically complex region, while architecture has played an incidental part. In this article, we examine the stilt or platform typology of vernacular architecture of the CHT as a tool to reflect on the inter-ethnic cultural position of the CHT. The chosen analytical framework hinges on the notion that architecture is constructive, in parallel to language, in establishing a heritage position. The concluding findings of the article establish CHT as a historic region with shared Southeast Asian building-cultural features, notwithstanding the possibility of correspondence to early Austronesian building heritage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-54
Number of pages20
JournalAsia Pacific Journal of Anthropology
Volume19
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2018

Keywords

  • Austronesian Heritage
  • Building Technology and Culture
  • Southeast Asian-Type Vernacular House Form
  • Stilt Architecture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology

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