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The Great Port Cities of Asia: In History

Publisher: Talisman Publishing
  • Description
  • About the Author
  • The history of Asia can be told through its great port cities: Guangzhou (Canton), Shanghai, Nagasaki, Basra, Aden, Jeddah, Kolkata (Calcutta), Mumbai (Bombay), Colombo, Batavia (Jakarta), Manila, Singapore, and many others. For millennia, port cities have been centres of global trade and the exchange of goods, peoples, cultures and ideas. They developed into cosmopolitan, multicultural societies and evolved distinctive, hybrid styles of art, architecture, material culture and ways of living. They were also crucibles of innovation, and have played an enormous, though under-appreciated, role in the spread of new technologies, new forms of creative expression and new ways of thinking throughout Asia.

    This book takes the reader on an epic journey across maritime Asia and the Indian Ocean, stopping at 60 port cities along the coasts and rivers of China, the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, Japan, Korea, the Middle East and Africa. The timeframe of the book is equally sweeping, reaching back some two thousand years to port cities of the distant past and forward again to those of the present. The stories of these great port cities are brought alive through explorations of artworks in museums, literature, architecture, food, fashion and popular culture. Every chapter is illustrated with photographs, maps or archival material.

    Stopping and sojourning at each of these port cities, museum director Kennie Ting tells an evocative, multi-layered tale of their living heritage, even as he paints a vivid picture of their importance in history. In doing so, he follows in the footsteps of generations of explorers and travellers who have wandered across the globe in the quest for knowledge, and recorded their experiences for posterity.

  • Kennie Ting is a writer, museum director and cultural heritage professional, fascinated by the history, heritage and culture of port cities in Asia, especially Singapore, where he was born.

    Previous books explore his interests: Singapore 1819: A Living Legacy (Talisman, 2019), the Heritage book in the Singapore Chronicles series (2015) and The Romance of the Grand Tour: 100 Years of Travel in South East Asia (Talisman, 2015). As Director of the Asian Civilisations Museum and Peranakan Museum in Singapore, he has overseen the curation of exhibitions on the arts of Southeast Asia, China, India, the Islamic World, Japan and Korea, as well as the material culture of cosmopolitan Asian port cities.

    Between 2016 and 2024, he transformed the ACM from a classical museum of ethnography and Asian art, to one that eschews traditional art histories for cross-cultural themes such as maritime trade, faith and belief, materials and design, and hybrid communities. During this time, he also expanded the museum's collecting and curatorial scope to include works of contemporary photography, fashion and design.

    For his contributions to the arts and culture, Kennie was conferred the Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by France in 2021, and the Public Administration Medal (Silver) by Singapore in 2023.

ISBN: 9789811889738
Cover Type: Hardcover
Page Count: 388
Year Published: 2024
Size: 240mm x 170mm
Language: English