Featured weekly article: A Sacred Bastion? A Nation in Itself? An Economic Partner of Rising China? Three Waves of Nation-Building in Taiwan after 1949

A Sacred Bastion? A Nation in Itself? An Economic Partner of Rising China? Three Waves of Nation-Building in Taiwan after 1949

By Hsin-Yi Yeh

Volume 14, Issue 1, pages 207-228

Abstract

Agreeing with the constructivist approach to nationalism, this article argues that the prevailing ambiguous attitude towards nationality among people in Taiwan is a reflection of different waves of nation-building − each led people to imagine a distinct nation − and the mixture of these waves during past decades. Whereas all nations are artificially imagined, ‘the style in which they are imagined’ should be examined. This article aims to distinguish three waves of nation-building in Taiwan after 1949 and address the issue of superimposition of contradictory elements in producing nation-ness to highlight that nation-building is a path-dependent process. Three suppositions can be derived from the investigation of Taiwan’s case. First, people are not empty vessels and the new national imagination has to compete and coexist with vestiges and crystallizations of former imaginations. Second, the content of a single nation-building programme may be reinvented according to the external and/or internal environment. Third, depending on the social atmosphere, official nationalism may adopt a different method to instil the national imagination.

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