Familiar Spaces: (National) Home in Contemporary Taiwanese Tourist Souvenirs

Zemanek, Adina Simona orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-7960-8646 (2015) Familiar Spaces: (National) Home in Contemporary Taiwanese Tourist Souvenirs. In: The 12th Annual Conference of the European Association for Taiwan Studies “(In)Visible Taiwan”, 8-10 April 2015, Jagiellonian University in Krakow. (Unpublished)

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This paper will discuss the ways in which various kinds of familiar spaces are employed for the construction of a Taiwanese national identity in local tourist souvenirs (such as postcards, stickers, refrigerator magnets etc.) currently available on the market. It will consider the analysed objects as multimodal texts (involving visual images, writing, and layout) and units within a larger Taiwanese discourse of national identity (according to M. Foucault's concept of discourse). The analysis will be performed with reference to Tim Edensor's idea of everyday life nationalism. According to Edensor, national identity is expressed and experienced in mundane, quotidian routines and practices, spaces, objects and commodities, woven together into a vast matrix that functions as a shared compendium of resources that individuals tap into in order to actualise a sense of national belonging. This study will show how the research material brands the Taiwanese nation by depicting a space whose landmarks are not only ideologically loaded historical sites which are part of the nation's “moral geography”, and places that celebrate modernity, but also (to a greater extent) readily recognisable everyday landscapes. These landscapes are composed of public transportation and other vehicles, domestic architecture, commercial and bureaucratic signs and mundane codes, distributed in familiar patterns, some of which are the result of state regulations and intervention. Edensor points out that such vernacular settings provide anchors for spatial identity in everyday life; they are part of a shared common sense as to “how things are”, and are usually barely noticed. This presentation will argue that the above-mentioned familiar space signifiers become de-naturalized as they are endowed with national significance in the process of branding the nation.

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