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Taiwan Research Programme
London School of Economics and Political Science
Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE


Professor Stephan Feuchtwang

Dr Fang-Long Shih

History, Identity and the Politics of Taiwan's Museums: reflections on the DPP-KMT transition

With Dr Edward Vickers (Institute of Education, University of London)

Series:  Regional Comparison: Taiwan and Ireland in Comparative Perspective

Date: Thursday 4 November 2010, 6pm-8pm

Venue: Room S75, St Clement's Building, London School of Economics (LSE)

Chair: Dr Fang-Long Shih (Taiwan Research Programme)


Museums in Taiwan - as elsewhere - have always been embroiled in politicized 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 campaign to nurture patriotic citizens of a 'Republic of China' encompassing the entire Chinese mainland. However, with the onset of democratization 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.

About the Speaker

Dr Edward Vickers is Reader in Education at the Institute of Education, University of London. His research focuses primarily on the politics of education in Chinese societies, and he has written on the role of schooling in official programmes of identity formation in Hong Kong, mainland China and Taiwan. He also researches the relationship between museums and identity politics, and has written on the role of museums in China's 'patriotic education' campaign, as well as on developments in museums on Taiwan during the period of the island's democractization. His previous publications include In Search of an Identity: the politics of history as a school subject in Hong Kong, 1960s-2005; History Education and National Identity in East Asia (edited with Alisa Jones); Education as a Political Tool in Asia (edited with Marie Lall); and 'Rewriting Museums in Taiwan' (a chapter in the volume Re-writing Culture in Taiwan, edited by Fang-long Shih, Paul-François Tremlett and Stuart Thompson).