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So Close, Yet So Far Away: Imaging Chinese "Homeland" in Taiwan’s Geography Education (1945-67)

Chang, Bi-Yu (2011) 'So Close, Yet So Far Away: Imaging Chinese "Homeland" in Taiwan’s Geography Education (1945-67).' Cultural Geographies, 18 (3). pp. 385-412.

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Abstract

After their defeat in the Chinese civil war, in 1949 the exiled Kuomintang (KMT) government fled to Taiwan and endeavoured to educate the baby-boomer generation on the island to become ‘true Chinese’. Geography education was one of the fundamental vehicles used by the KMT to construct a sense of Chinese identity and to create a longing for a Chinese motherland. This paper explores the ways in which a KMT-versioned ‘sense of place’ was constructed in elementary education, and investigates how the concepts of ‘home’ and ‘homeland’ were introduced and presented in school textbooks. The paper examines the geographic knowledge taught in Taiwan’s elementary schools (both through the content of textbooks and the design of curriculum) between 1945 and 1968 in order to understand the way in which the foundations of a China-centric identity were laid, and also how a Chinese homeland was constructed. The reason for taking 1968 as the cut-off point in this study is because ‘Geography’ as a stand-alone subject was removed from elementary education following curriculum reform. In the process of reinforcing a sense of Chinese-ness, the relationship between the island and its inhabitants was sacrificed. The island became detached from the islanders and was turned into a meaningless flatscape. This paper argues that the rise of Taiwanese awareness in the 1990s has proven that an arbitrary construction of an inauthentic Chinese identity is both problematic and unsustainable.

Item Type: Articles
Keywords: geography education, Taiwan and China, identity, sense of place, homeland, geographical imagination, placelessness, flatscape
SOAS Departments & Centres: Faculty of Languages and Cultures > Department of the Languages and Cultures of China and Inner Asia
Faculty of Law and Social Sciences > Department of Politics and International Studies
Faculty of Law and Social Sciences > Centre of Taiwan Studies
DOI (Digital Object Identifier): 10.1177/1474474010384914
Depositing User: Bi-Yu Chang
Date Deposited: 30 Jun 2011 14:10
URI: http://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/12025

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