ANTHROPOLOGY OF HABITAT AND ARCHITECTURE (AHA)

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O. F. BOLLOW'S ANTHROPOLOGY OF SPACE AS EVOLUTION THEORY OF CULTURE

Bollnow's anthropology of space is fundamental for a new macro-theoretical approach in anthropology which today is lost in its endless ocean of endless micro-theories. Bollnow's anthropology of space deals with a basic category of the human world: space. At the same time this basic category includes two essential dimensions of culture: materiality and emptiness. Empirical objects in space as well as non materialistic extension. In other words, space implies the totality of human experience. Thus consequently an anthropology of space is an approach which has the potential to theoretically cover the totality of human dimensions.

But, why is Bollnow's theory hardly known? The main reason is the fact that the insights into the cultural meaning of space are covered up by modern concepts of space as propagated by physics and astronomy. Space as a homogeneous continuity from the micro-cosmic dimension of atoms to the macro-cosmic dimensions of the universe. The homogeneous unity of space in which we live as humans.

Of course, objectively there is truth in this 'scientific' concept of space, in its macro-cosmic dimensions, as well as in its micro-cosmic dimensions. Both are part of powerful fields of human knowledge, the discovery of the universe on one hand since the 14th century, and the discoveries of micro-physics and chemistry in later phases of modern times.

But, on the other hand, the consequences of these scientific processes on human culture are desastrous. They homogenize our world on a grand scale. This is not only economically the case with the "global market", but also socially and culturally. One of the most indicative domains is architecture. See for instance what happens in China: in many cities the whole architectural history with its ancient spaces is widely torn down! Western high rise architecture American style is set up with the aid of Western architects and their design offices. The important power of architectural space in terms of cultural and historical identification is destroyed, replaced by a spiritually empty rectangular high-rise geometry.

The damage of this global geometrical homogenization is tremendous. By relating space intimately to the human condition, Bollnow makes us aware of the enormous cultural loss this worldwide superficial use of architectural space produces, Bollnow's "anthropology of space" becomes one of the most important theoretical tools for the modern anthropologist.

This is also valid in regard to culture in general. As we have shown above, Bollnow theoretically deals with space in close relation to humans and their cultural history and traditions. Since space is an all embracing condition of human culture, this means that Bollnow's "anthropology of space" can be used in the framework of a critical evolution of culture.

To give an example: Creation myths are a widespread type of explaining the origins of humans and their cultural life on earth, often interpreted in the framework of divine and macro-cosmic conditions. However, if we know that the discovery of the macro-cosmic extension of the world is a very late cultural phenomenon, we might discover that so called creation myths are often - in fact - describing the microcosmic foundation of a simple human settlement. The reason is socio-political. The founder-house of a village is often honored with an elementary local hegemony.

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