Representing indigenous peoples of Taiwan: the role of museums

Chen, Shih-Yu (2018). Representing indigenous peoples of Taiwan: the role of museums. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis situates the issue of representing minority groups in the debate over the role of museum spaces in the contemporary society. In particular, the thesis explores the shifting relationships between the indigenous peoples and the wider Taiwanese society which is considered to be influential in forming indigenous representations.
I conducted fieldwork in case-study museums, which are considered to be leading museums that are more resourceful and influential, and places beyond museum spaces, such as local cultural centres, indigenous communities and public occasions.
In this thesis, I suggest that indigenous representations cannot be understood without considering the power relationships between the represented subjects and their surrounding parties, for example, colonial history and political changes. Because of the nature of museums, this thesis has shown that although there are limitations of museum representations, museums still play a symbolic role in Taiwanese society.
I also expanded my examination of indigenous representations beyond museum spaces. I discovered that compared to museum representations, these representations are more responsive to the needs of both indigenous peoples and their audience. I also argued that although indigenous peoples obtain a greater autonomy in self-representing, internal power relationships and hierarchy also play a critical role in these self-representations.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of History and Cultures, Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage (IIICH)
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: A General Works > AM Museums (General). Collectors and collecting (General)
D History General and Old World > DS Asia
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GT Manners and customs
N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general


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