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Cultural Governance and Place-Making in Taiwan and China*

  • Selina Ching Chan (a1)

This article compares cultural governance in Taiwan and China through their respective place-making processes. It investigates how cultural polices objectify tradition and popularize cultural landscape in local places for economic development and identity politics. Contrary to what would be commonly expected, the Chinese government adopted a minimalist approach while the Taiwanese government was much more hands-on. The sociopolitical histories of the two governments and their objectives are examined to understand this difference. In addition, the reactions of the locals to cultural policies in the two places are also contrasted. Finally, the different effects of cultural governance in China and Taiwan are examined. In particular, it was found that communal relations have deteriorated in China but strengthened in Taiwan as a result.

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1 Foucault Michael (trans. Sheridan Alan), Discipline and Punish: the Birth of the Prison (New York: Vintage Books, 1995).

2 On Taiwanese cultural nationalism, see Hsiau A-chin, Contemporary Taiwanese Cultural Nationalism (London: Routledge, 2000).

3 On economic nationalism, see Crane George T.Imagining the economic nation: globalization in China,” New Political Economy, Vol. 4, No. 2 (1999), pp. 215–32.

4 Zheng Yongnian, Discovering Chinese Nationalism in China: Modernization, Identity, and International Relations (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), p. 30.

5 Yan Hongliang and Bramwell Bill, “Cultural tourism, ceremony and the state in China,” Annals of Tourism Research, Vol. 35, No. 4 (2008), p. 972.

6 Ryan Chris and Humin Gu, “Constructionism and culture in research: understandings of the fourth Buddhist festival, Wutaishan, China,” Tourism Management, Vol. 31, No. 2 (2010), p. 171.

7 Oakes Tim, “China's provincial identities: reviving regionalism and reinventing ‘Chineseness’,” The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 5, No. 3 (2000), pp. 667–92. Oakes Tim, “Cultural strategies of development: implications for village governance in China,” The Pacific Review, Vol. 19, No. 1 (2006), pp. 1337.

8 Ibid. pp. 34, 56. Anagnost Ann, National Past-Times (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1997).

9 Oakes Tim, Tourism and Modernity in China (London: Routledge, 1998), pp. 57, 186.

10 Johnson Marshall, “Making time: historic preservation and the space of nationality,” Positions, Vol. 2, No. 2 (1994), p. 194.

11 Allen Joseph R, “Taipei park: signs of occupation,” Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 66, No. 1 (2007), pp. 159–99.

12 Taylor Jeremy E., From “Hello Kitty” to Hot-springs: Nostalgia and the Japanese Past in Taiwan (Bochum, Germany: Fakultät für Ostasienwissenschaften, Sektion Sprache und Literatur Chinas, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, 2001).

13 Yu-nan Su, “Shequ yingzaozhong minzhong canyu kongjian yingzao jiaose ketizhi cutan – yi Tainanxian san ge shequ weili” (“A preliminary study of the roles for participation community planning – the case of three communities in Tainan county”), Masters thesis, National Cheng Kung University, Department of Urban Planning, 2004.

14 Fufeng Hong, “Tan shequ zhongti yingzao yu difang yishi de xiazhaihua – yigaoxiong hamaxing diqu weili” (“On the construction of community and narrowing of provincialism”) Shilian zazhi, Vol. 29 (1996), pp. 1540.

15 Luo Rosa Shiow-hwa, “Fanzhuan shequ guihua de zhudao quanli – Wenshan jingyan” (“Let community direct the planning efforts: the Wenshan experience in Taipei”), Journal of Building and Planning National Taiwan University, Vol. 12 (2004), pp. 81108.

16 Yayun Chang, “Chuanqi muqu shangbancu – Baimi shequ nüxing de xingbie yu kongjian shijian” (“Wearing wooden clogs to work: gender and spatial practices of women in Baimi”), Masters thesis, National Donghua University, Graduate Institute of Ethnic Relations and Cultures, 2003, pp. 49, 78.

17 Li-jen Wu, “Cong chuantong zhong xunzhao xinshengmin de wenhua chanye – yi Baimi muqu weili” (“Cultural industry receiving new life from tradition: case study on Baimi”), Masters thesis, National Taiwan University, Graduate Institute of Journalism, 2002.

18 Lu Hsin-yi, The Politics of Locality: Making a Nation of Communities in Taiwan (London: Routledge, 2002).

19 Bang Henrik P., “Introduction,” in Bang Henrik (ed.), Governance as Social and Political Communication (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2003), pp. 16; Mark Bevir, “A decentred theory of governance,” in ibid. p. 208; Jan Kooiman, “Activation in governance,” in ibid. pp. 79–100.

20 Henrik P. Bang, “A new ruler meeting a new citizen: culture governance and everyday making,” in ibid. p. 247.

21 Certeau Michel De (trans. Rendall Steven), The Practice of Everyday Life (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984), pp. 30, 36.

22 Chen Chi-nan, “Rang Ilan jingyan chuandi kailai: tan defang wenhua yu minzhu zhengzhi” (“Let's disseminate the Ilan experience: on local place, culture and democratic politics”), Dianchang jingyisu (Artco), Vol. 100 (2001), pp. 164–66.

23 “Zhongguo jingjiwang: Hangzhou shiwei shuji Wang Guoping tan Xihu zonghe baohu gongcheng”) (“Chinese economic web: a discussion on West Lake Integrated Protection Programme by secretary Wang Guoping from secretary of Hangzhou Municipal Government”),, accessed 2 April 2010. In 2006, West Lake is a famous sightseeing place and has been included in the List of Chinese World Cultural Heritage by the State Administration of Cultural Heritage. “Hangzhou zhiding jihua lizheng 2010 nian Xihu ‘shengyi’ chenggong”) (“Hangzhou's planning for the success Xihu's application of cultural heritage”),, accessed 3 July 2009.

24 Chun Allen, “From nationalism to nationalizing: cultural imagination and state formation in postwar Taiwan,” The Australian Journal of Chinese Affairs, Vol. 31, No. 1 (1994), pp. 4969.

25 Chi-Nan Chen, “Xinzhengyuan wenhua jianshe weiyuanhui zhongyao baogao” (“Important report by Executive Yuan Cultural Construction Committee”), 13 April 2005, unpublished.

26 Chen Chi-nan, Taiwan de chuantong Zhongguo shehui (Taiwan's Chinese Traditional Society) (Taipei: Asian Culture, 1987), pp. 158–80.

27 Chun, “From nationalism to nationalizing,” pp. 49–69. Chu Y.H.. and Lin J.W., “Political development in 20th-century Taiwan: state-building, regime transformation and the construction of national identity,” The China Quarterly, No. 165 (2001), pp. 102–29; Harrell S. and Huang C.C., Cultural Policy in Postwar Taiwan (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1994).

28 Hsin-yi Lu, The Politics of Locality, p. 49.

29 Ibid. The concern for local history is also a widely held nostalgic sentiment among Taiwanese. See Chow Rey, “A souvenir of love” in Yau Esther C.M. (ed.), At Full Speed: Hong Kong Cinema in a Borderless World (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2001), p. 201.

30 Personal communications between the author and Chen in Hong Kong and Taiwan in 1988–95.

31 “Shequ zhongti yingzao” (“Community Integrated Programme”),, accessed 2 April 2010.

32 Chi-nan Chen, Zhongguo shibao (China Times), 26 April 2005, p. A11.

33 Chen Chi-nan, “Gongmin guojia yishi zhi jianli” (“Establishing the identity of citizens”), Chuantong yishu (Traditional Arts), Vol. 46 (2004), pp. 45.

34 Chen Chi-nan, “Cuisheng wenhua gongmin xinshehui, yingjie quanqiuhua langchao – 21 shiji wenjianhui de zeren yu renwu” (“Promoting new society based on cultural citizenship, receiving globalization – responsibility and mission of Council for Cultural Affairs in the 21st century”), Shuxiangyuanchuan (Book Boom Magazine), Vol. 13 (2004), pp. 45.

35 Hsin-yi Lu, The Politics of Locality, pp. 117, 121–25.

36 Li-jen Wu, “Cultural industry receiving new life from tradition.”

37 The Community Building Programme is modelled after cultural policy in Japan where each village is encouraged to have its own speciality. Yingsan ChenChen Chi-nan – tan chuantong gongyi” (“Chen Chi-nan – traditional arts and citizens’ aesthetics among citizens”), Taiwan gongyi (Taiwan Arts), Vol. 19 (2004), pp. 411.

38 In the Qing dynasty, Yangshan was the only school in Ilan. On 31 March 1980, Yu Shishkun of the Democratic Progressive Party donated about 4 million NT$, a fund unused from the election, to set up Yangshan Cultural Foundation to promote cultural development in Yilan. “Caituan faren Yangshan wenjiao jijing” (“Yangshan Cultural Foundation”),, accessed 3 April 2010.

39 Revitalization of Local Cultural Industry: a Case Study of Bai-mi Community, I-Lan County, the Republic of China (Taipei: Small and Medium Enterprise Administration, Ministry of Economics, 2000), p. 1.

40 Ibid. p.11.

41 This organization has received financial support from the government in organizing seminars and providing training for local community leaders in order to develop the cultural industry.

42 In 1998, a simple single-storey Wooden Clog Exhibition Museum was first established but was found to be too small and a new one was built in 2006.

43 The development of Baimi into a tourist destination has not brought as many employment opportunities as was intended in the beginning because there is no other attraction for tourists.

44 Some houses were demolished and relocated in order to build a wider main road to link the village to the tunnel.

45 “Xihu zonghe baohu gongcheng jianjie” (“An introduction to West Lake Integrated Protection Programme”),, accessed 3 April 2010.

46 “Meijiawu cha wenhua zhengzhi gongcheng” (“Meijiawu improvement project”),, accessed 3 April 2010.

47 Ibid.

48 This was based on an interview with a male informant in Mejiawu in April 2008.

49 Hsin-yi Lu, The Politics of Locality, p. 116.

50 Ibid. pp. 11–15.

51 Yayun Chang, “Wearing wooden clogs to work,” p. 44.

52 Stevenson Nick, Cultural Citizenship: Cosmopolitan Questions (Glasgow: Open University Press, 2003), p. 146.

53 Stevenson Nick, The Transformation of the Media: Globalisation, Morality and Ethics (New York: Pearson Education Ltd, 1999), p. 33.

54 Crane George T., “Imagining the economic nation: globalisation in China,” New Political Economy. Vol. 4, No. 2 (1999), pp. 215–32.

55 Goffman Erving, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1971).

56 This was based on an interview with a male informant roasting tea leaves in Meijiawu in April 2008.

57 De Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life, p. xii.

* Informants are gratefully acknowledged, as are the reviewers who kindly provided feedback on an earlier draft.

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