Taiwan in Their Hands: cultural soft power and translocal identity making in the New York Taiwan Academy
AuthorBourke, Hannah Louise
AffiliationSchool of Culture and Communication
Document TypeMasters Research thesis
Access StatusOpen Access
© 2019 Hannah Louise Bourke
In 2011, Kuomintang (KMT) President Ma Ying-jeou created the Taiwan Academies as a cultural exchange initiative to enhance Taiwan’s soft power and introduce Taiwan’s culture to the world, while also competing against China for space in the realm of competing notions of Chineseness internationally. Three Taiwan Academy resource centres were established that year in New York, Los Angeles, and Houston. This thesis presents a historical case study analysis of the Taiwan Academy resource centre in New York between 2012-2014, in order to examine the context of production of soft power discourse and the empirical consequences within a specific program, among a target audience. To this end, it examines soft power from the perspective of translocality, in order to uncover the often-overlooked socio-cultural, relational, and spatial aspects of cultural strategies aimed at generating soft power. This study responds to two central research questions. First: what kind(s) of cultural messages were being produced and exported to New York by Ma's administration in Taipei? Second: how were these messages translated, interpreted and received in practice, in their implementation at the New York Taiwan Academy? To address these, this research first re-conceptualises a de-Westernised, localised framework for interpreting cultural soft power discourse under Ma’s KMT administration. It then considers Taipei’s strategy of generating cultural soft power through Taiwan Academy from two perspectives: from “above”, in Taipei, and “below”, in New York. From “above”, it evaluates Taiwan Academy as a political strategy, in relation to relevant domestic, cross-Strait, and international contexts. From “below”, this study conducts a grounded analysis of two Taiwan Academy cultural programs and the translocal processes and practices that re-/defined the role of Taiwan Academy in New York. The conclusion integrates these two perspectives in order to address the dynamics and limits of Ma’s use of cultural soft power within the Taiwan Academy. In doing so, this thesis aims to explicate the contingent, relational, and inherently translocal nature of soft power practice.
Keywordstranslocal; translocality; Taiwan studies; cultural policy; cultural studies; soft power; Taiwanese soft power; cross-Strait relations; cultural soft power; Chineseness; Taiwan Academy; Taiwanese American studies
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