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Postwar Nostalgia and Japanese Style in the Historic Preservation and Development of Kishu An Forest of Literature in Taipei, Taiwan

Starks, Charles

This thesis examines the citizens’ movement in Taipei, Taiwan, that arose in the first decade of the 21st century to preserve, restore and reuse the Kishu An, a commercial building constructed when Taiwan was a Japanese colony in the early 20th century. The preservation movement has culminated in the creation of a literary cultural center and teahouse, called the Kishu An Forest of Literature. The preservation of the site was shaped by a coalition of diverse interests, including students, neighbors who wanted to save the site’s large trees and open space and members of the literary community which had emerged in the neighborhood after World War II. I find that while the cultural center utilizes the site’s Japanese imagery to promote tourist visits by the general public interested in the contemporary "ha ri" or “Japanophilia” phenomenon, the preservation of Japanese style also has deeper connections to the legacy of Japanese architecture in Taiwan’s postwar past. In Taiwan, Japanese buildings are remembered as humble domestic residences and as sites of educated resistance to martial law, and the Taiwan independence movement has embraced the island’s Japanese heritage as a counterweight to Guomindang control and mainland Chinese influence. Japanese architectural objects such as the Kishu An bear these meanings and have become symbols of a shared past for a population whose political orientation and national identity remain unstable.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
East Asian Regional Studies
Thesis Advisors
Lean, Eugenia Y.
Degree
M.A., Columbia University
Published Here
July 11, 2013