The Meaning of the Chinese Garden: Cross-Cultural Communication of Chinese Gardens Built in Europe Since 1978
In this era of globalization, the increasing speed of communications between countries contributes to the exchange between different civilizations. This is not only embodied in a virtual intermediary, such as the internet, mass media etc., but it is also reflected in materiality, such as daily commodities and the built environment. Although we are grounded in our own cultural memories, we live in a collaged scenario where we are also influenced by a range mixed messages coming from far away.
The Chinese garden is just one example of these various kinds of cultural messages which have been disseminated throughout the world since 1978. After the destruction of a great amount of historical relics and antiques during the Cultural Revolution (1967-1977), China embraced a new age by focusing on economic development, while opening up to the outside world. At the same time, cultural exchange between China and developed countries became the main concern, especially in Europe and the USA. Now, there are more than 50 Chinese gardens all over the world, distributed in a total of 17 countries.
This cross-cultural phenomenon will be excavated in an interdisciplinary way, absorbing methods and knowledge from the disciplines of architecture, philosophy, communication and social cultural anthropology. Three main aspects will be explored: 1. the historical background and urban function of these overseas Chinese gardens 2. the common notion regarding to the Chinese garden. 3. the language impact on the receiver. This research aims to uncover how the meaning of the Chinese garden was disseminated and reinvigorated in Europe through this cross-cultural communication process.
PhD student working on this project: Lian Zhai
Image source: Qian Garden, Germany,1990