Framing Futurity: Photography, Religious Diaspora, and Transnational Imaginations of Cold War Taiwan

15:00 to 16:30

The University of Nottingham’s Taiwan Studies Programme presents an on online talk.

Talk abstract

The founding of the PRC in 1949 and the Nationalist government’s contemporary retreat to Taiwan put into motion a diasporic movement of missionaries and Chinese Christians out of Mainland China. As connections between global religious institutions and local groups were severed or radically transformed, vernacular visual materials of (and by) participants in this exodus represented nostalgic perceptions of lost historical possibilities. Moreover, in “freezing time,” these materials mediated imagined hopes for the survival of communities split by the Chinese Civil War and Cold War realignments in East Asia. In this talk, I will discuss recently-uncovered rare photographic sources produced by an American Jesuit priest and a Chinese Catholic family caught up in transitions from late Republican China to new Taiwanese roots.

I explore these visual representations in parallel with popular conceptions of Nationalist “Free China,” the “loss of China” in US consciousness, and the ways in which vernacular media and interstitial identity-making framed ground-level Taiwanese experiences. Finally, I trace connections to refashioned religious projects in 1950s–1970s Taiwan as well as fragmentary public and private afterlives. In sum, I explore these images and visual cultures as historically “moving,” imaginatively “eternal” artifacts of imagined futurity – created by and projected onto transnational communities in Cold War Taiwan.

Read more and register here.

The University of Nottingham's Taiwan Studies Programme

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