This page has paths:
- 1 2019-11-27T22:32:33-05:00 Evan Dawley 7a40080bd5bb656cee837d5befaa3ea8e7a2ac44 Actors Evan Dawley 5 In this sub-pathway, I define the principal actors in the module. plain 5401 2020-02-29T21:04:29-05:00 Evan Dawley 7a40080bd5bb656cee837d5befaa3ea8e7a2ac44
This page is referenced by:
Sacred Geographies of Urban Colonial Taiwan: Jilong's Geography in Transformation
Evan N. Dawley
Evan N. Dawley
Colonial regimes, almost by definition, engage in the transformation of the spaces into which they insert themselves. This practice, however, is not unidirectional or simply imposed upon the colonial terrain, it is a contested process in which all actors advance their territorial visions through methods that include asserting ownership, restructuring the physical geography, and passive and active forms of resistance. Jilong (Keelung) became a site for processes of de/reterritorialization under Japanese colonial rule when it emerged, briefly, as the location of the first headquarters of the Taiwan Government-General in June 1895. Those processes intensified when Jilong served as the primary port of entry for most of the fifty years of Japanese rule. The town, its harbor, its terrain, its people, all of these facets left Japanese control in 1945 in radically altered conditions. The most obvious aspects of these changes--the different physical and urban topographies visible in these two historic maps—is not evidence of the successes of Japanese colonial rule. Nor does the quantity and distribution of temples during the 1930s in a third map demonstrate a permanent remapping of the sacred or physical terrains. A spatial exploration of the sacred geographies within Jilong reveals a very different outcome: the construction and assertion of an ethnic Taiwanese identity through temples and their associated festivals, in opposition to Japanese efforts to reconsecrate Taiwan through Shintō and missionary Japanese Buddhism. Many observers of Taiwan have examined Taiwanese nationalism, mostly in an effort to understand the history and current features of Taiwan’s independence movement. However, the competition over religious institutions and activities that took place between 1895 and 1945 produced a different form of Taiwanese identity. Briefly put, consistent opposition to fifty years of Japanese assimilation policies promoted the construction of Taiwanese ethnicity, but not necessarily an independence-minded nationalism.
The Taiwanese, or rather, the people who became Taiwanese through their participation in the definition of both physical and imagined geography, constituted the largest portion of the population in Jilong. These people, called “islanders” (hontōjin or bendaoren 本島人) by the Japanese who colonized Taiwan, had genealogical roots in Southeastern China and had settled in the island during the two centuries of Qing rule over the island (1684-1895). They came from different homelands, or “native places,” spoke different languages, and fought with each other over land and resources. Even though they were outsiders by comparison to the indigenous peoples who had been the main human inhabitants of Taiwan before these Southeastern Chinese arrived, by the advent of Japan’s rule, most had gone through a process of localization or nativization (bentuhua 本土化). From the perspective of the other main ethnic group living in Jilong, the Japanese settlers, the Taiwanese were natives who needed to be transformed and uplifted through Japanese influence. Both the islander/Taiwanese locals and the Japanese settlers asserted control over physical and sacred terrain, often in competition with each other. (When I use the term “native,” I refer to the islanders, not to the indigenous peoples of Taiwan. However, indigenous groups also contested with Japanese over sacred geography, including well after the end of Japanese rule in Taiwan, such as when a group went to Yasukuni Shrine in 1979 and demanded the return of the spirits of their ancestors who had been enshrined there for service to the Japanese Empire in World War Two (Ching, Becoming “Japanese”).)
In narrating this history, I demonstrate that these contested territorializing projects created space and place in colonial Jilong. The projects themselves involved self-conscious efforts to define the physical terrain through modern cartography, state policy, and social activity of a largely religious nature. I highlight the first of these in particular by using a number of historic maps, most of them created by the Japanese colonial government, which present a flat, totalizing vision of space in which states attempt to control places through their description and delineation. Nevertheless, modified versions of these maps highlight the points of intersection between sacred and profane, between physical and imaginative geographies—that is, the temples and the territorial cults of their principal deities. In using them, I bring out what the state's maps hide: the people who created place by applying meaning to space through their everyday relationships. Also, I rely mostly on a Japanese map of the city to visually emphasize that Taiwanese used their religious institutions and practices to oppose Japanese efforts to control and transform the colony. Points on a map do not indicate absolute or natural linkage between a place and an identity. Rather, they represent the results of the fluid interactions among key actors: elites from different ethnic groups; between elites and the colonial state; and between elites, non-elites, and the deities that they worshiped. These actors contributed to the construction, reinforcement, and transgression of a set of porous boundaries between Taiwanese and Japanese identities and their affiliated social groups; between sacred and profane; and between physical and imaginative geography.
The diagram below shows the module's structure. Click on a node to reveal the pathways, pages, or media objects to which is connects.
The module contains six pathways. The first, “Sacred Geography: Definitions,” provides an important conceptual entryway, and I encourage readers to explore its pages before proceeding into the the main body of the module, which follows pathways that address the Taiwanese and Japanese efforts to define and control the sacred and profane. Both of these threads link to a fourth, on the competing festivals that highlighted the efforts to claim and occupy both physical and imaginative geography; and to a fifth that depicts the failure of Japanese efforts to make Jilong a purely Japanese sacred space. The module ends with a brief examination of the post-1945 florescence of religion as a key marker of Taiwanese identity. Links to explanations of key concepts are scattered throughout the module, so that readers will better understand how islanders/Taiwanese and Japanese created space and place in urban colonial Taiwan.
Click here for a list of references for this module, which is also available from the module's Conclusion page.
Note: “Sacred Geographies of Urban Colonial Taiwan: Jilong’s Geography in Transformation” is based on material that appeared in sections of Evan N. Dawley, Becoming Taiwanese: Ethnogenesis in a Colonial City, 1880s-1950s (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 2019). The text of this module cannot be reproduced, shared, altered, or exploited commercially in any way without the permission of the Harvard University Asia Center. It is copyrighted material and not subject to the allowances permitted by the CC-BY-NC-ND license.
The Construction of Taiwanese Sacred Geography
This page introduces the sacred spaces that existed in Jilong before Japanese colonization, with a focus on the main three temples (Qing'an, Dianji, and Chenghuang Temples).
Evan N. Dawley, Becoming Taiwanese: Ethnogenesis in a Colonial City, 1880s-1950s (Harvard Asia Center Press, 2019).
Evan N. Dawley
Taiwan nichinichi shinpō
“In regards to the leadership of the people’s hearts,” said an article in the Taiwan nichinichi shinpō from November, 1896, “this is something that must have originated with the long-established system of temples. Now that Taiwan has become a part of Japan, we must of course maintain this system.” For the small town of Jilong, with a population of at most around 9,000 in 1895, that system contained a number of small institutions representing cults to local and imperial deities and quasi-Buddhist sects, many of which bordered on the heterodox. Three temples filled the core of this “long-established system,” the Qing'an gong, Dianji gong, and Chenghuang miao, all of which sat within a few blocks of each other in the heart of the area settled by Chinese from Zhangzhou and Quanzhou counties in Fujian Province. Although these temples themselves were not all that “long-established,” they nonetheless constituted the most significant pieces of sacred terrain when the Treaty of Shimonseki transferred Taiwan from Qing to Japanese imperial sovereignty. Once the Taiwan Government-General reached the conclusion expressed in the news article above and allowed temples to reopen, these three institutions, plus a few others, played increasingly important roles as leaders of the people's hearts.
As readers move through this pathway, they should be attentive to the roles of the islander/Taiwanese elites who established the temples, the deities that they enshrined within them, and also the overlapping scales of temple, city, island, and region that characterized both physical and imaginative geography. Also consider which perspectives operate, and dominate, on each page: The state or the everyday? The god's-eye or the person's eye?
The Japanese Occupation of Taiwan's Sacred Space
This page discusses how Japanese secular and religious institutions at least temporarily occupied some of the native temples after 1895.
Evan N. Dawley, Becoming Taiwanese
Evan N. Dawley
Prince Kitashirakawa no Miya Yoshihisa
Pure Land Sect
When Japanese forces arrived in Jilong, having fought their way overland after coming ashore at Aodi, along the coast to the east, they sought lodging and other facilities. The first iteration of the Taiwan Government General established its temporary offices in the building that housed the Qing Imperial Maritime Customs, in the northeast part of town, and the armed forces, under the command of Prince Kitashirakawa no Miya Yoshihisa, requisitioned at least two temples, the Dianji and Chenghuang, for their lodging. In the process, they broke several deity idols at the latter and blew up a portion of the former with an accidental weapons' explosion. These occupations were temporary, but reconsecration constituted a more profound invasion of Taiwan's sacred spaces. As Japanese settlers began to arrive in Taiwan, both government officials and private citizens, they established outposts of their own religious traditions, principally Buddhism and Shinto. One of the most convenient ways that Japanese Buddhist sects found to implant themselves in Taiwan was by taking over existing temples and setting up their own branches in the same places. This happened in at least three cases in Jilong: the Pure Land (Jōdō) sect made use of the Chenghuang Temple for a time, taking it over from the military; the Shinshū sect occupied the Longwang miao, not too far from the customs house; and the Sōdō sect took over the Shuixian miao, west of the harbor, before replacing the Shinshū at the former Longwang site. In light of these religious intrusions, the reterritorialization of the island's sacred geography was a key facet of Japan's colonization of Taiwan; in these instances, settlers rather than the Government General provided the motive force.
As readers move through this pathway, they should be attentive to the roles of the colonial state and the Japanese elites who established the temples, the deities that they enshrined within them, and also the overlapping scales of temple, city, island, and region that characterized both physical and imaginative geography. Also consider which perspectives operate, and dominate, on each page: The state or the everyday? The god's-eye or the person's eye?
Sacred Geography: Definitions
This page opens the Sacred Geography pathway, and begins to develop an explantion of sacred geography and its interactions with physical geography.
Evan N. Dawley
The central concern of this module is the analysis of sacred geography: its construction, its operations, and its interactions with physical geography. The latter spatial form is certainly not fixed or closed to redefinition. People apply different, often competing, meanings to discrete chunks of physical topography—that is they territorialize space—and they radically transform the appearance and composition of their environments. Even mountains and oceans change, seemingly of their own accord, across Braudel’s longue durée. Nevertheless, physical geography is susceptible to mapping by the tools of modern cartography. We can plot specific places and represent topography on maps, and use those maps to get from place to place. In contrast, we cannot precisely map the features and boundaries of sacred geography, or apply the tools of GIS systems to it, because it mostly lacks tangible forms and the coordinates of latitude and longitude. With physical geography, we can measure distance and area, and use those criteria to distinguish between different scales of territories, such as town, city, state, country, and continent. Or we can use ideas of time to measure changes in physical spaces and places. We can also build place-based identities—local, national, regional—that we associate with these different scales. We cannot carry out these actions with sacred geography, which is flat in the sense that distance, area, elevation, and time have no meaning there. Therefore, place as a “particular expression of geographical space” (Bodenhamer, 14) does not easily exist in sacred geography.
But I have framed these definitions in the negative, in terms of what it is not. What is sacred geography? It is a type of imaginative geography, both in the sense that it is a spatiality that we can represent but not actually see, and in the sense of a spatiality that people construct as they assert, or attempt to assert, power. Societies create sacred geography, or sacred space, as the territory affiliated with the divine—deities, ancestors, cosmological forces—and imbue it with an existence that is separate from, but intimately connected to, our own world. They construct it as indeterminate, a form of territory that exists both nowhere and, potentially, everywhere. In this regard, because we can tell stories about sacred space, we can also transform it into place and link our identities to particular cosmologies and religions. Moreover, the ability to determine how sacred and physical geographies intersect depends upon whether or not a socio-political group holds sufficient power to assert its spiritual beliefs within specific territories, particularly in the face of counter efforts by other socio-political groups. In this module, readers will see numerous examples of competition around two main points of intersection: the temples that Jilong’s residents built (especially as Taiwanese renovated their temples and Japanese took over and reconsecrated Taiwanese temples), and the festivals that they held in honor of the deities enshrined in those institutions.
Although sacred geography is a human construct, societies have imbued it with its own organizing logics and with powers to shape human affairs. For both the islander/Taiwanese and the Japanese in Taiwan, the most important of these logics were hierarchy, functionality, and socio-cultural specificity. Deities held specific ranks in terms of their importance and power, and they were responsible for certain aspects of human activity or natural phenomena, but only in regards to the social and territorial groups with which they were affiliated. Therefore, sacred space does not simply exist, it also acts upon the physical world and its residents, and it imparts meanings to the territories with which it is associated. The following pages explore representations and architectures of sacred geography, and the everyday practices through which people create pathways that allow the divine to manifest within and affect the physical world.