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

Zemanek, Adina Simona orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-7960-8646 (2017) Familiar Spaces: (National) Home in Contemporary Taiwanese Tourist Souvenirs. China Perspectives, 2 . pp. 7-17. ISSN 1011-2006

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This paper discusses depictions of space in contemporary tourist souvenirs manufactured by private companies that explicitly undertake defining and promoting Taiwan for a local and international audience. They highlight “Taiwan” as the nation's name, associate it with the island's map as national territory, and fill this territory not only with iconic landmarks, but above all with ordinary, familiar spaces and sights. The latter are de-naturalized for the purpose of building national identity understood as a specifically Taiwanese way of life. As historical palimpsests, the depicted landscapes also construct a national heritage not based on a single, local tradition, but shaped by manifold, native and external factors. This definition of Taiwan can be deemed a grassroots response to official undertakings in nation branding that depict the island as preserver of high, traditional Chinese culture and downplay politically sensitive local elements. Its non-antagonizing character may be a function of the medium (commercial popular culture), but may also reflect a new stage in the articulation of Taiwanese identity, based on the need to appeal to the entire national community, notwithstanding ethnic and political divides.

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