To view this PAPER PRESENTATION, search for the session title in the Browse by Titlelisting. (See the session title located immediately below ["In Session:"])
In Session: National Identity in East Asian Museums
3: De/Re-centring the Nation: Displays of Asia in the Southern Branch of the National Palace Museum
Thursday, March 25, 2021
12:00pm – 1:30pm EDT
National University of Singapore, United States
The Southern Branch of the National Palace Museum opened in 2015, fifteen years after it was proposed. Positioned as a “museum of Asian art and culture” its aim was to bring diversity to the National Palace Museum, which holds the vast collection of the Chinese imperial artefacts and artworks and prides itself as the protector and inheritor of Chinese civilisation. The initiative sparked controversy, with some criticizing it as the “Taiwanization” of the National Palace Museum. The dialogue between the two branches reflects the ongoing anxiety, desire and complexity of identity-making in Taiwan’s transformation. Building on the concepts of the Sinophone and Minor Transnationalism, my paper will consider how the making of Taiwan must be seen in relation to other cultures as it stood in the intersection of multiple empires. One must move beyond the traditional binary model of minority cultural formations, to see how interactions between minority cultures have their own agency and how this agency is not necessarily arranged in opposition to majority cultures. Through interviews with museum curators and an analysis of the exhibitions, I will demonstrate that the museum de-centres the “nation” by bringing in the multifaceted and trans-cultural relations of Chinese civilisation through new collections and displays of Asian culture and art and by placing current Chinese artefacts into novel and unconventional contexts. The museum also “re-centres” the nation by shifting its subjectivity and bridging new inter-Asian connections where Taiwan can seek its position while embracing the Chinese "cultural sphere."