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Tamburo, Elisa (2019) Moving House: Place, Time and the Politics of Urban Relocation in a Taipei Military Village. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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In 1949, the Kuomintang (KMT) was exiled from China to Taiwan, as a result of the Chinese Civil War. Makeshift settlements were built for 600,000 military personnel and their families displaced to Taiwan, creating the so-called “military villages”, or juancun. From the mid-1990s, the government began to reclaim many of these sites and moved residents into new high-rise apartments. This dissertation explores the process of relocation of one of the last inhabited juancun, Zhongxin Village in Taipei, with a longterm ethnographic fieldwork conducted between 2015 and 2017. The dissertation primarily asks how the uprooting of political exile, followed by emplacement in a makeshift settlement for sixty years, informs a second displacement in the form of urban relocation. Drawing on studies of urban relocation, time and urban informality, I examine the historical and political formation of the village, the rhythms and personalities of everyday life in the juancun as I encountered them during fieldwork, the temporality of the move from the low-lying village to vertical Taipei, and the subsequent adoption of new ways of living and relating. My main argument is that the relocation of a community that has made place through the experience of the exile for sixty years creates “social disarticulation” in the new setting. I suggest that the gains and the losses incurred during this urban relocation are fully understandable only by taking a longue durée approach, which pertains to the earlier experience of displacement/emplacement. By taking a processual, diachronic approach to repeated displacement, my thesis contributes to anthropological debates on urban relocation, planning and heritage in Asian cities, and to the ethnography of informality in Taipei.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses
Supervisors Name: Edward Simpson
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 20 Jul 2021 12:11

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