Fri, May 23, 2008 - Page 15 News List

Taiwan through a Japanese lens

By Noah Buchan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Japanese Governor General Kodama, top center, and Civil Administrator Goto Shimpei, top right.


When the Japanese began their colonial rule of Taiwan in 1895 they brought with them the latest in photographic technology to create a pictorial record of the island's land and people. Beginning in 1896, these images were collected into official photographic albums.

Joseph R. Allen, Chair of Asian Languages and Literatures at University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, will discuss these picture albums and place them into a historical context in a lecture titled Taiwan Seen Through a Japanese Lens: 1895-1905, tomorrow at Yue-han Hall (月涵堂) as part of the Taipei Salon, a series of lectures hosted by the Lung Yingtai Cultural Foundation (龍應台文化基金會). The lecture begins a 2pm.

The albums presented Taiwan as a distant and exotic land in a manner that allowed the Japanese, both on the island and at home, to imagine it as something that might be comfortably their own.

In the process, the Japanese photographic effort not only constructed individual iconic images of the island, but also placed those images into a visual narrative.

Allen has written extensively about Taiwan. His essay Reading Taipei: Cultural Traces in a Cityscape reveals the development of Taipei City as reflected in its structure and architecture - from the European-style architecture of the Japanese colonial period to the American model adopted by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) - as the island's largest city moved from one sphere of cultural influence to another.

Hsia Chu-joe (夏鑄九), director of the Graduate Institute of Building and Planning at National Taiwan University and a former student of urban planning theorist Manuel Castells, will moderate the lecture. Hsia is currently editor-in-chief of Cities and Design: An Academic Journal for Intercity Networking.

Taiwan Seen Through a Japanese Lens: 1895-1905 is at Yue-han Hall (月涵堂), 110 Jinhua St, Taipei City (台北市金華街110號), tomorrow from 2pm to 5pm. Admission is free, but those attending must register in advance by calling (02) 3322-4907 or at The event will be conducted in English.

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