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Pro-colonial or postcolonial? Appropriation of Japanese colonial heritage in present-day Taiwan

Prokolonial oder postkolonial? Verwendung des japanischen kolonialen Erbes im gegenwärtigen Taiwan
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Amae, Yoshihisa

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Abstract Since the end of World War II, the Kuomintang (KMT) (Guomindang) government has erased all traces of Japanese rule from public space, deeming them 'poisonous' to the people in Taiwan. This frenzy, often termed 'de-Japanization' or qu Ribenhua in Chinese, included the destruction and alteration of Japanese structures. Yet, with democratization in the 1990s, the Japanese past has been revisited, and many Japanese structures have been reconstructed and preserved. This paper examines the social phenomenon of preserving Japanese heritage in present-day Taiwan. It mainly investigates religious/ spiritual architecture, such as Shinto shrines and martial arts halls (Butokuden), war monuments and Japanese statues and busts. A close investigation of these monuments finds that many of them are not restored and preserved in their original form but in a deformed/ transformed one. This finding leads the paper to conclude that the phenomenon is a postcolonial endeavor, rather than being "pro-colonial", and that the preservation of Japanese heritage contributes to the construction and consolidation of a Taiwan-centric historiography in which Taiwan is imagined as multicultural and hybrid.
Keywords Taiwan; post-colonial society; Japan; monument; historical analysis; hybridity; nationalism; collective memory; reminiscence; religion; culture; war; domination; contemporary history; Asia
Classification Cultural Sociology, Sociology of Art, Sociology of Literature; International Relations, International Politics, Foreign Affairs, Development Policy
Method descriptive study
Free Keywords Social science; applied science; architecture and design; colonial history; preservation of historical monuments; contemporary
Document language English
Publication Year 2011
Page/Pages p. 19-62
Journal Journal of Current Chinese Affairs, 40 (2011) 1
ISSN 1868-4874
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works