‘Shared Heritage’: Postcolonial Heritage and Civil Society in Taiwan

The Taiwan Spotlight programme, ‘Shared Heritage’: Postcolonial Heritage and Civil Society in Taiwan' (2-4 November 2015) consisted of a series of lectures, an informal meeting with academic and managerial staff of IIAS and Leiden University, a workshop, a small photo exhibition, and a meeting with representatives of the Leiden municipality.

It was organised by the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS), Leiden University (the Netherlands), and the Institute of Historical Resources Management (Taiwan), with the assistance of the Leiden Taiwanese Student Association and with the financial support of the Taiwanese Ministry of Culture.  

Civil society participation in heritage-making

The subject of the programme related to the relationship between civil society on the one hand, and cultural heritage on the other. One of the specific subjects were some of the Japanese colonial sites in Taiwan (the Taipei Beer brewery, and the Jinguashi mining district). No longer representing the material imprints of foreignness and discrimination, Japanese colonial sites in Taiwan have become new sites of locality in shaping the country. Yet, as may be expected, Japanese buildings open up many fields of contestation within civil society. The heritage-making process involves multiple levels of negotiation and reinterpretation by grassroots groups, and shows various initiatives in negotiating a better humanistic future for the relevant communities. Other themes discussed in the project related to urban sites (Dadaocheng) and the rebuilding of villages of indigenous communities.

Through representative cases of the conservation movement involving former Japanese sites and other places of interest, this programme showed the active civil society participating in the heritage making process in Taiwan and tells how Japanese sites have been opened up for discussions on issues of social justice, human rights and post-disaster sustainability. In this sense, ‘shared heritage’ is about sharing power and strategies. It crosses social classes and geographical boundaries.

Taipei Beer Brewery 

The workshop on Wednesday 4th was of particular interest, since it demanded the active participation of all those who were present. The approach of ‘world cafe’ was adopted to access the issue of ‘living industrial heritage’ in the conservation process of the Taipei Beer Brewery. The participants were placed into several groups/tables of various stances in order to explore potential strategies on further defining the role of the Taipei Beer Brewery in urban development. 


The programme in Leiden ran parallel with the IIAS Asian heritages research cluster. In this case, of special importance was the IIAS supported graduate Double Degree Programme in Cultural Heritage of Asia and Europe between Leiden University and two departments of National Taiwan University (the Anthropology department of the College of Liberal Arts, and the Graduate Institute of Building and Planning). Students currently attending the MA course in (Asian) heritage at Leiden University also attended the Spotlight programme.

The programme was largely carried by five scholars and practitioners from Taiwan and supported by a (Taiwanese) lecturer from Leiden University College, The Hague, and a research fellow of IIAS. On Monday and Wednesday afternoon, some 25 participants joined the programme, including the group of MA students in cultural heritage studies. The meeting on Tuesday afternoon/evening was attended by H.E. Mr Tom Chou, Representative in The Hague, and, among others, by representatives of the Sinology department of Leiden University.



Monday, 2 November

14:15 - 14:25 

Welcome address, dr Willem Vogelsang, deputy director IIAS

14:25 - 15.00 

HUANG, Yi-Jie (assistant professor, Leiden University College The Hague): “The Historical Context of Colonial and Postcolonial Taiwan”

15.00 - 15:30 

Min-Chin CHIANG (Assistant Professor, Taipei National University of the Arts): “Japanese Colonial Heritage in Taiwan: An Introduction”

15:30 - 16:00 Coffee/tea

16:00 - 16:30

Alice Ru-Hwa CHIU (Secretary General, Institute of Historical Resources Management, Heritage Conservation Movement in Taiwan): “Urban Planning and Heritage Movement: the case of the Dadaocheng Special Historical District in Taipei City”

16:30 - 17:00

Monique CHEN (Deputy Director, Sustainable Travel International (STI) Taiwan Office; Director, Taiwan Sustainable Travel): “The Preservation of Industrial Landscape Heritage Embedded in the Community: the case of Jinguashi”

17:00 - 18:00 Drinks

Tuesday, 3 November

17:00 - 17:20     

Welcome address by dr Philippe Peycam, director IIAS

17:20 - 17:30     

The Spotlight Programme: Words of welcome, H.E. Mr  Tom Chou, Representative, Taipei

Representative Office, The Hague.

17:30 - 17:45     

Introduction to the ‘Shared Heritage’ programme and exhibition  (Alice Chiu and Min-Chin


17:45 - 18:30     

Film and Lecture:

Ying-Chun HSIEH (Architect, Atelier-3): “Searching for a Sustainable Future for Post-Disaster Recovery and Cultural Restoration”

18:30 - 20:00      

Buffet / Reception

Wednesday,  4 November

14:15 - 14:45 

Dr Surajit Sarkar (IIAS fellow; Centre for Community Knowledge, Ambedkar University, Delhi,

 India): “Living with contested heritage – rethinking methodology and practice”

14:45 - 15:15 

Mei-I JIANG (Researcher, Department of Cultural Affairs, Taipei City Government): “Contesting Living Industrial Heritage: the case of Taipei Brewery”

15:15 - 15:45 


15:45 - 17:15  

Workshop: “the Taipei Beer Brewery”