Program Date: June 8, 2022
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This panel discussion explores the often-overlapping realms of architectural history and heritage conservation in Asia. It features four short talks by scholars in China and India whose research, teaching and practice are situated at the intersections of these disciplines, followed by brief commentaries from two scholars who have traced broader themes in architectural history and practice in these countries. The session concludes with a moderated discussion among the panelists and audience. Proposed as a dialogue that explores points of similarity and divergence, the roundtable poses questions such as: What is architectural history research in the context of Asia? Does or can it exist in isolation from conservation and design efforts? What are the major themes and contemporary issues confronting teachers and students alike? How, if so, has recent research interest in “global”, “non-western” and “postcolonial” readings of Asian architecture (often generated outside the region) impacted teaching and research in India and China? We believe this discussion is timely and facilitates communication between a global community of scholars engaged and interested in architectural studies in South and East Asia. The roundtable is supported by the SAH Women in Architecture Affiliate Group.


Priya Jain, an Indian woman with long black hair

Priya Jain is Assistant Professor in Architecture and Associate Director of the Center for Heritage Conservation at Texas A&M University. As a licensed architect in both US and India, she has worked on the restoration and reuse of many historic buildings. Her research focus is on 20th-century South Asian architecture within a transnational context.


Yan Wencheng, a Chinese woman with long black hair

Yan Wencheng is a historian of Chinese art and architecture of the modern period, with a broad interest in the history of 20th-century architecture and Asian art and architecture. Her 2-part translation on the history of Chinese architecture was recently published on PLATFORM. She will be a Visiting Assistant Professor at Bryn Mawr College during the academic year 2022–23.



 Jigna Desai, and Indian woman with brown hair, wears a dotted scarf

Dr. Jigna Desai is an associate professor and Program Chair for Masters in Conservation and Regeneration at the Faculty of Architecture, CEPT University, Ahmedabad. She heads the Center for Heritage Conservation, CEPT Research and Development Foundation. Jigna has authored books, research papers and articles, most notable being Equity in Heritage Conservation, the case of Ahmedabad (Routledge, 2019).


Bhawna Dandona, and Indian woman with black hair, wears a dark scarf

Bhawna Dandona is a conservation architect and a professor, with an MSc in Historic Preservation. In her practice she has engaged with heritage at many levels offering a wide range of conservation services, in India and the United States. Her research focus is construction histories, transnational exchanges and materials conservation.



Cecilia L. Chu, an Asian woman with dark hair, wears a black shirt and gray sweatera

Cecilia L. Chu is an associate professor in the Division of Landscape Architecture at the University of Hong Kong. Trained as an urban historian with a PhD in Architecture from the University of California, Berkeley, she is the author of Building Colonial Hong Kong: Speculative Development and Segregation in the City (Routledge, 2022).


Zhao Chen, a Chinese man with white hair

Zhao Chen, Professor of Architectural History and Theory at Nanjing University School of Architecture and Urban Planning, researches on the comparison of Western and Chinese/non-Western architectural cultures. He critiques the existing system of Chinese architectural history and theory produced with a simplistic application of Western theories, and works to reinterpret and reconstruct a traditional Chinese architectural culture. 



Mary Woods, a white woman with short brown hair, wears glasses on her head

Mary N. Woods is Professor Emerita of Architectural History and Urbanism at Cornell University where she was the inaugural McCarthy Chair of Theory. Her books are: From Craft to Profession (1999); Beyond the Architect’s Eye (2009); Women Architects in India (2016); and Postindustrial Landscapes in the US and India (forthcoming).

Shuishan Yu, a Chinese man with short black hair, wears glasses and a dark shirt

Shuishan Yu’s research focuses on Chinese architecture, literati arts, and Buddhist architecture in East Asia. He has published books, articles, book chapters, and exhibition catalogs and presented conference papers on the city and architecture of Beijing, guqin music, Tibetan Buddhist architecture, Chinese literati art, and architectural historiography.