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Debating “Modern”: The 1935 Taiwan Exposition

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Post date:2021-03-24



Debating “Modern”: The 1935 Taiwan Exposition
Event Time
Event Location
No. 2, Section 1, Yanping North Road (Railway Department ParkTel), Datong Dist., Taipei City Taiwan, R.O.C
▲National Taiwan Museum is temporarily closed until 14th June due to the extension of COVID-19 Level 3 Alert.
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Special Exhibition: Debating “Modern”: The 1935 Taiwan Exposition

World expos originated in Europe as a place for countries to showcase their breakthroughs in areas such as industry, commerce, entertainment and imperial expansion. With the goal of boosting industrial growth, the Taiwan Governor-General’s Office held the “Taiwan Exposition: in Commemoration of the First 40 Years of Colonial Rule” in 1935 revolved around the themes of progressive and modern Taiwan. How did the expo present “modern”? How did the expo-goers experience the event? In this exhibition things like diary entries, novels, poems, travel notes and reports give us an insight of how the expo may have been lived and how these “modern” institutions were received by the public.

Taiwan as an exhibition site of modernity
Foreign study groups traveled all around Taiwan to visit its modern infrastructures, agricultural and industrial facilities, and public health improvements. A study group from China’s Fujian Province noted that Taiwan’s “agricultural achievements were the result of science, technology and efficiency.” But did these rational and technical advancements bring true happiness to Taiwan?

Dying for a peek?
Promotional materials and the word on the street described the expo as an absolute must-see. Capitalists, writers, astray Qing elders, workers, social activists, young people, and study groups from nearby countries all had something to say about the event. How did their experiences and opinions differ?

Have we become modern?
As Taiwan began modernizing under Japan’s colonial regime, groups of people started calling for change in issues such as political autonomy, social justice, cultural identities, labor rights and indigenous autonomy. The world hasn’t stopped evolving since 1935. What constitutes as progress and what values do we pursue now?

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