About Edward Denison
Edward Denison is an independent writer and photographer, and teaches at The Bartlett, UCL. His books include Asmara: Africa's Secret Modernist City (2003), Modernism in China – Architectural Visions and Revolutions (2008) and McMorran & Whitby (2009). His website is here
Articles by Edward Denison
There has been much questioning of police behaviour in Britain following the way the G20 protests in London on 1 April 2009 were handled. As an architectural historian and photographer who has stood in front of countless buildings in various countries armed with nothing more sinister than a camera and a wide-angle lens, the heavy-handedness of over-exuberant security officials is familiar. But few such experiences match the one I had in London recently - a few miles west of the G20 drama, in front of Hammersmith Police Station. The result was my detention under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (2005), and a new sense of fear about my country.
The impending restoration of Shanghai's former Holy Trinity Cathedral, once described as "the most magnificent church in the East", may seem relatively insignificant compared to the massive changes taking place in China, but the decision to return this former British Protestant stronghold to a Christian flock belies important aspects of China's current transformation. Many of China's contemporary triumphs, problems and contradictions appear sharply in focus when viewed through the prism of urban heritage preservation (pdf), a topic that has become a political and historical minefield.
"London good. Asmara bad." In four terse words, Semret had summed up the distilled histories of two disparate capital cities in unwittingly Orwellian tones. Few people have heard of Asmara. Indeed many have not heard of the country of which it is the capital city - Eritrea.