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Taiwan: The Consolidation of a Democratic and Distinct Society

History, Identity, and the Politics of Taiwan’s Museums

Reflections on the DPP-KMT Transition
Edwards Vickers

Abstract

Museums in Taiwan—as elsewhere—have always been embroiled in politicised debates over collective identity, both reflecting and helping to shape the contours of identity discourse. During the four decades of the Martial Law era, the Kuomintang (KMT) regime used museums as vehicles for its campaigns to nurture patriotic citizens of a “Republic of China” encompassing the entire Chinese mainland. However, with the onset of democratisation from the late 1980s, museums increasingly reflected and reinforced a strengthening consensus over Taiwan’s historical and cultural distinctiveness, while also mirroring the considerable pluralism of popular identity consciousness. This trend was accentuated under the regime of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) after 2000, but 2008 witnessed the return to power of a KMT determined to establish warmer ties with China. This paper examines the extent to which the new regime’s more accommodative approach to China has extended into the realm of museums, while considering whether developments within the sector, and within broader Taiwanese society, mean that museums are no longer quite the pliable tools of official cultural policy that they once were.

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References

Electronic reference

Edwards Vickers, « History, Identity, and the Politics of Taiwan’s Museums », China Perspectives [Online], 2010/3 | 2010, Online since 01 September 2013, connection on 17 August 2017. URL : http://chinaperspectives.revues.org/5308

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About the author

Edwards Vickers

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