“One China, Many Taiwans
The Geopolitics of Cross-Strait Tourism”
Ian Rowen (NTNU)
9 May 2023
In-person seminar: Conference Room 1, Research Center for Humanities and Social Sciences, Academia Sinica
Live on YouTube: www.youtube.com/cefchongkong/live
Discussant: Benjamin Taunay (Angers University)
One China, Many Taiwans shows how tourism performs and transforms territory. In 2008, as the People’s Republic of China pointed over a thousand missiles across the Taiwan Strait, it sent millions of tourists in the same direction with the encouragement of Taiwan’s politicians and businesspeople. Contrary to the PRC’s efforts to use tourism to incorporate Taiwan into an imaginary “One China,” tourism aggravated tensions between the two polities, polarized Taiwanese society, and pushed Taiwanese popular sentiment farther toward support for national self-determination.
Consequently, Taiwan was performed as a part of China for Chinese group tourists versus experienced as a place of everyday life. Taiwan’s national identity grew increasingly plural, such that not just one or two, but many Taiwans coexisted, even as it faced an existential military threat. Ian Rowen’s treatment of tourism as a political technology provides a new theoretical lens for social scientists to examine the impacts of tourism in the region and worldwide.
Ian Rowen is Associate Professor in the Department of Taiwan Culture, Languages, and Literature at National Taiwan Normal University. He previously served as Assistant Professor of Sociology, Geography and Urban Planning at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
His work on culture, politics, and place-making has appeared in The Journal of Asian Studies, Annals of the American Association of Geographers, Annals of Tourism Research, Asian Anthropology, International Journal of Transitional Justice, The New York Times, the BBC Chinese, The Guardian and elsewhere. His book, One China, Many Taiwans: The Geopolitics of Cross-Strait Tourism was published by Cornell University Press in 2023.