Liu, Sung-Ta (2009)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.
Academic literature has examined how the transformation of a nation’s state power can give rise to shifts in national identity, and how such shifting identity can be represented in the form of the nation’s changing urban landscape. This thesis investigates that topic in the case of Taiwan, a de facto independent country with almost one hundred years’ experience of ‘colonial’ and then ‘settler’ rule. Both colonial rule and settler rule constitute an outside regime. However, the settler rulers in Taiwan regarded the settled land as their homeland. To secure their supremacy, the settler rulers had to strongly control the political, cultural, and economic interests of the ‘native’ population. Democratisation can be a key factor undermining settler rule. Such a political transition can enable the home population to reclaim state power, symbolising that the nation has entered the post-settler era. This thesis explores how the transition from Japanese colonial rule to Chinese settler rule and then to democratisation gave rise to changes in Taiwanese national identity, and to its reflection in the urban landscape of the capital city, Taipei. The thesis reveals the irony of a transition in which the collapse of settler rule has been unable to drive significant further change in the city’s urban landscape. In other words, the urban landscape of post-settler Taipei City is ‘stuck in transition’. The condition reflects the ambivalence in Taiwanese national identity caused by the unforgettable, yet not really glorious memory of settler rule.
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