Drinks afterwards. Registration is required.
This lecture is about the Shinto shrines built during Japanese colonization in Taiwan between 1895-1945. Mostly acknowledged as representations of the Japanese colonizers, many of these shrines later became Martyrs’ shrines after the Chinese Republicans (Kuomintang, KMT) arrived in 1945. Today, the former religious and political symbols of Japanese colonizers serve the public in various forms-- as Martyrs’ shrines, Confucius Temples, religious space for Buddhism, Taoism and Catholic churches, or derelict spaces. Despite their kaleidoscopic physical forms and materiality, these structures adhere to a similar set of architectural principles cemented through years of colonization.
Despite the shrines’ prominent representations of different authorities, the lecture will discuss how the everyday use of these official spaces re-defines their function, definition and even symbolism. The lecture will engage critically with Taiwanese forms of ‘colonial nostalgia’ such as the vibrant re-inhabitation or re-appropriation of Shinto shrines, which seem to strengthen the ever-strong links with Japan in historical and cultural terms to discuss, instead, these practices as forms of anti-authoritarianism.
Starting off from the making of Shinto shrines, the lecture will continue with an observation of their current re-appropriation in Taiwan’s quotidian settings. It will interrogate the KMT’s former assumption that eradicating colonial constructions equals decolonization and ask: are the material Shinto shrines the sole imperial/ colonial symbolism, or is actually the usage of these structures the ultimate enunciation of power? How could the former imperial symbolism in architectural form-- after the KMT conducted yet another wave(s) of space production process-- enable the post-colonial population to articulate their identity through negotiating the meanings of these shrines? How such negotiation of identity became crucial to articulate the manifestation of anti-authoritarianism? The lecture contends that it is the autonomy for such articulations which evidences decolonization. It also seeks to contribute to a broader understanding to the notion of decolonization by adding Taiwan, a former colony of the Japanese Empire, on the topography of post-colonialism.