State Spatiality and Identity Formation in Postwar Taiwan

Douglas Fix, Reed College

Bi-yu Chang, Place, Identity and National Imagination in Postwar Taiwan. New York: Routledge, 2015. 260 pp. $145 (cloth).

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In her new book, Place, Identity and National Imagination in Postwar Taiwan, Chang Bi-yu argues that, despite this avalanche of publications and websites devoted to Taiwan’s (historical) geography and cartography, few publications have offered a comprehensive and detailed analysis of Taiwan’s spatiality, in particular the representations and spatial discourse of nation and homeland that have been propagated and controlled by the Kuomintang (hereafter KMT) regime since its retreat to Taiwan in late 1949. To fill that gap in the literature (particularly in the English-language scholarship) on Taiwan’s spatiality, Chang has examined the annual Taiwan Yearbook, Taiwan-based cartographic production, elementary-school textbooks, and the 1950s design and construction of Chunghsing New Village (site of the relocated provincial government). Her goal has been a better understanding of the symbolism, construction, visualization, and contested meanings of Taiwan’s geography and political landscape. In this monograph, Chang also seeks to examine the ways in which state spaces are operated, contested, and changed, as well as how power relations are concretized, social alliances established, and cultural changes enacted through state spatiality. Although the central focus is state spatiality, this is also a book about Taiwan’s identity politics and the highly contested postwar power relationships on the island...