Accepted paper:

Representing Taiwan Aborigines: Discourse Analysis on Aboriginal Objects Since the Nineteenth Century


Hui Du (Southwest University for Nationalities)

Paper short abstract:

The aim of this study is to write a biography of Taiwan aboriginal objects. By tracing their social life, I want to explore the entangled relationship between things and human,self and other and the West and the East.

Paper long abstract:

Aboriginal objects sleeping in the museums, are alive by giving social meanings, which transfer among different spaces and times. Museums become arenas where powers struggle and provide special context for representing Taiwan aborigines and their culture. In such cultural contact zone, political and scholarly discourses impose upon these objects and shape or reshape their meanings by contextualization and recontextualization. In the colonial context, the practice of collecting and exhibiting becomes one part of civilizing project and an indispensable step for modernization. They are considered as trophies of colonial expansion and involve in the process of decolonizing in the post-colonial context. Until the 1980s, Taiwan aborigines have tried to recover traditional culture and pursue more equal rights. Then museum is not just the cultural contact zone with entangled powers, but also the storage where aborigines could find authentic aboriginal objects and gain knowledge. Whereas the paradox is that museums essentialize aboriginal culture as some kind of object or technique, by which Taiwan aborigines try to reconstruct self-identify.

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A museum ethnography: decolonisation, reconciliation and multiculturalism