The Politics Of Museums and Memorial Culture in Post–Martial Law Taiwan

Online Jour fixe mit Kirk Denton (Ohio State University)

Denton will discuss his new book, The Landscape of Historical Memory: The Politics of Museums and Memorial Culture in Post-Martial Law Taiwan. He will first present an overview of some general trends in historical representation in Taiwan museums since the lifting of martial law in 1987 and the contestation between the “blue camp” (the Nationalist Party, or KMT, and its supporters) and the “green camp” (Democratic Progressive Party, or DPP, and its supporters) over what facets of the past should be remembered and how they should be displayed in museums and memorial spaces. He then turns to one particular museum—the National Museum of Taiwan History (est. 2011)—and discusses the ways in which it attempts to construct “shared memories” in its narrative of Taiwan history. The case of Taiwan museums tells us much about Cold War politics and its legacy in East Asia; the role of culture, history, and memory in asserting nationhood for a nation-state that is not recognized as such by the rest of the world; the politics of historical memory in an emergent democracy, especially in counterpoint to the politics of museums in the People’s Republic of China, which continues to be an authoritarian single party state; and the place of museums in a neoliberal economic climate.


Kirk Denton is a member of the advisory board of the "Globalized Memorial Museums" ERC project.
About Kirk Denton