Taiwan and its memory spaces: Reading the past

Every 3rd Monday of the month from 5pm to 8pm, from 15 October 2018 to 24 June 2019. Spring break (March-April).

Location: Room 2, EHESS, 105 Bd Raspail, 75006 Paris.

This seminar will chart the different stages of an identity affirmation process expressed in Taiwan by what we might call “Formosan tropism”. Indeed, we will try to identify the historical and cultural framework within which an increasingly assertive and insular identity with regards to China was formed and advocated. While observing these identity mutations in light of the debates that continue to accompany them, we will also chart the memorial foundations by exploring memory spaces in Taiwan itself. We will focus just as closely on places linked to the Republic of China, and thus relating to the trajectory of the Chinese mainland, as to those places specific to Taiwan’s own historical and cultural experience.Our studies will deal with concrete, material and geographically located objects, but also with more abstract and diffuse incarnations of memory, such as political symbols, the terms and names for public and private spaces, figures from local and national history, the formulation of narratives, etc.

The seminar will call for the use of primary and secondary written sources in French, Chinese and English. It will also be an opportunity to project video footage, as well as fiction and documentary films connected with the theme of identity and memory.

This year, the seminar will deal more specifically with concurrent readings and interpretations of the past. In particular, we will question the significance of the Sino-Japanese War and the figure of Chiang Kai-shek in today’s collective memory.

From school textbooks to the evolution of historiography, via the analysis of various remembrance policies, we will attempt to follow the evolution of a relationship to the past which tells us as much about the changes specific to Taiwanese society, as to its position towards the memory transformations taking place across the strait, that is in contemporary Chinese society.

2018-2019 Calendar

Monday 15 October 2018

Introductory session.

Monday 19 November 2018

A study of the issue of the “national novel” through the texts of Suzanne Citron, Pierre Nora and Benoit Falaize:

– Suzanne Citron, Le Mythe national, l’histoire de France revisitée (The National Myth, the history of France revisited), Les Éditions de l’atelier, 2017, pp. 7-17.

– Pierre Nora, Présent, nation, mémoire (Present, Nation, Memory), Gallimard, 2011, pp. 115-127.

– Benoit Falaize, L’Histoire à l’école élémentaire depuis 1945 (History at Elementary School Since 1945), Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2016, pp. 115-149.

Monday 17 December 2018

Remembrance ceremony and transitional justice.

Session in conjunction with the Taiwan Perspectives conference. Presentations by:

– Wang Huei-min 王惠民 (Doctor of Political Science at Tamkang University, 淡江大學政治學博士)

Commemoration and remembrance of “those who died for their country:” its place in preservation policy of historical and cultural hertiage in Taiwan.

(Presentation in Chinese with French translation)

– Lee Suen-cheng 李鎨澂 (Researcher at the National Policy Foundation, 國家政策研究基金會研究員)

Transitional justice policy and its impact on the evolution of historical memory in Taiwan.

(Presentation in French)

Monday 21 January 2019

Continuation of our reflection on the concept of “national novel” through the analysis of Benoit Falaize’s text; feedback on the last few conferences of the “Taiwan Perspectives” cycle, looking at both their form and their content; continuation of the exploration of different readings of the past related to the 228 incident.

Monday 18 February 2019

Session dedicated to the 228 incident. After having spent the past two years exploring the questions of memory work/duty of remembrance concerning these events, we will focus on an analysis of different narrations related to the events: “expert” readings from historiographical circles or “ordinary” stories spread by mass media.

Studied text: Victor Louzon, “Les avatars d’une tragédie : Histoire politique et mises en intrigue de l’Incident du 28 février 1947 à Taïwan” (Avatars of a tragedy: Political history and creating intrigue of the 28 February 1947 incident in Taiwan), Études chinoises, vol. XXXVI-2 (2017).

Monday 18 March 2019

Session cancelled.

Monday 15 April 2019

Session cancelled.

Monday 20 May 2019

Session dedicated to student presentation.

  • Arielle Noy Gsell « Dispositifs de représentation des communautés autochtones dans les musées d’anthropologie à Taïwan – L’exemple de l’exposition Discovering Taiwan au National Taiwan Museum »
  • Marta Pavone « Quelles stratégies commerciales pour le développement d’une réputation dans le marché religieux concurrentiel ? Le cas du temple Hongludi à Taïwan »
  • Wang Chien-hui « La littérarité des sujets sur l’identité, une leçon donnée par Taïwan »
  • Yen Hsun-Yeh « L’incarnation de la Chine libre à Taïpei ? Le déplacement et les pratiques d’espace des commerçants continentaux au marché Chunghwa »

Monday 17 June 2019

Joint session with the conference series Taiwan Perspectives.

Our speaker will be Victor Louzon, lecturer at Sorbonne University. He will be giving a presentation entitled “Histoires d’un péché originel : mises en récit de l’Incident du 28 février à Taïwan, de 1947 à nos jours” (Stories of an original sin: the narrative of the 28 February Incident in Taiwan, from 1947 to today).

Fieldwork Grants

The French Taiwan Studies project provides fieldtrip grants to students participating in the seminar to help them cover the cost of their research when out in the field (for a maximum period of a month).

Recipients 2018-2019:
  • Mr Corentin Ludwig (AMO Masters – EHESS)
    Research topic: “The Young Kuomingtang” (中國國民黨青年團)
  • Ms Huang I-Ling (Anthropology Masters – EHESS)
    Research topic: “From local funeral rite to the Khan-chui-cheng cultural festival in Taiwan: thoughts on the interpretations of the remembrance of a flood”
Jury members:
  • Mrs Xiaohong Planes (INALCO – Langues’O, Sorbonne Paris Cité)
  • Mr Jérôme Soldani (CERCE – Paul Valéry University, Montpellier III)
  • Mrs Samia Ferhat (Paris West University Nanterre – UMR CCJ/EHESS)

Practical Information


The seminar takes place at the EHESS, Room 2 (first floor) at 105 Bd Raspail, 75006 Paris.

Access :

  • Metro, line 5, stop Saint-Placide
  • Metro, line 12, stop Notre-Dame des Champs