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Lecture | China Seminar

Towards A Poetics of Dwelling: The Formation of Nearness Within the Chinese Literati Garden and its Enlightenments for Contemporary Spatial Practices in China

Wednesday 1 May 2024
LIAS China Seminar
Johan Huizinga
Doelensteeg 16
2311 VL Leiden
Huizinga 0.04


As an important type of built environment in ancient China that, the literati garden is renowned for its rich artistic, cultural, and historical significance. In our rapidly changing modern world, what lessons can these captivating, traditional built heritages offer to address contemporary challenges and help create more meaningful built environments? Inspired by this inquiry, this talk will delve into the mechanism of formation and evolution of the Chinese literati garden. Specifically, it will focuse on the meaning of ‘Nearness’—a key spatial-experiential quality inherent in this type of built environment—and examine how it has formed throughout history. Furthermore, the talk will explore how this essential quality of ancient garden-making is reflected in contemporary spatial practices in China.


Li Lü is currently a lecturer at the Institute for Area Studies, Leiden University. He previously served as a postdoctoral research fellow at Delft University of Technology, where he also earned his PhD. His doctoral research explores the concept of ‘Nearness’ in Heideggerian philosophy, particularly examining its manifestations and mechanisms in Chinese literati gardens as an antidote to the existing disruptive modern condition. Currently, Li is engaged in developing a research proposal that investigates the transformation and accommodation of Chinese culture within the Netherlands. This study, framed through Michel Foucault’s concept of ‘heterotopia’, aims to understand various forms of Chinese cultural heterotopias in the Netherlands, tracking their historical origins and developmental trajectory. Li’s recent publication, ‘Exploring A Spatial-experiential Structure Within the Chinese Literati Garden: The Master of the Nets Garden as A Case Study’ (co-authored with Dr Mei Liu) delves into the spatial-experiential structure within the Chinese literati garden through a combination of various research methods, including GIS.

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