Current Publications

Liberating Architecture from ‘Chineseness’: Colonial Shinto Shrines and Post-colonial Martyrs’ Shrines in Post-war Taiwan

Liza Wing Man Kam

This chapter probes into the concept of “Chineseness” in architecture. It investigates how the so-called Chinese design elements could be hidden, disguised, magnified, and appropriated in facilitating different identification processes in Taiwan since the Japanese colonial era. It discusses two forms of renditions: colonial Shinto shrines and post-colonial Martyrs’ shrines, in which the hidden and proclaimed “Chinese” design elements that the Japanese and Kuomingtang authorities attempted to essentialize and negotiate, respectively, for their own convenience to rule. Drawn upon the theoretical dictum of diasporic paradigm to consider “Chineseness” as category with non-fixed content in “racial, cultural or geographical terms which operates as an open and indeterminate signifier” (Ang 1998, p. 225), “Chineseness” as a concept, or China, Chinese as attributions—subliming from its geopolitical suggestion—should merely serve as temporal references, which describe collection of dynamic cultural stop-overs with its intellectual trajectories, rather than being fixed and timeless. Akin to any other attribution in front of that “–ness,” ‘Chineseness’ is relevant only when it is liberated from the modern geopolitical and national boundaries in its individually contextualized situations in cultural sense.

Department of East Asian Studies
External organisation(s)
Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Max-Planck-Institut zur Erforschung multireligiöser und multiethnischer Gesellschaften
No. of pages
Publication date
Peer reviewed
Austrian Fields of Science 2012
604002 Architectural design, 201201 History of architecture, 601022 Contemporary history, 605008 Cultural heritage
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