Bodies and Structures 2.0: Deep-Mapping Modern East Asian History

The State and The Everyday

The two most prominent perspectives that pervade the history that I relate in this module are those of the state (or states) and those of the everyday (or groups and people).
State priorities shaped Japan’s colonization of Taiwan, beginning with the decision to make Jilong’s harbor the main point of access to and from the island and to prioritize its port and urban construction above all places save the colonial capital of Taipei. These priorities redesigned Jilong’s lay-out and municipal size, and its administrative hierarchies, and influenced the establishment and management of sacred spaces in ways that facilitated government access to these sites. They also shaped many of the maps that appear in this module, applying a need to delineate and fix to the physical terrain. The state perspective was most evident at the regional, island, and city levels of scale, but it was also deeply enmeshed at the street-level of the temple.

The everyday perspective was principally those of the people who moved through the city streets and built and made use of its institutions and enterprises on a regular basis. Everyday activities shaped the social climate of Jilong and gave meaning to the urban designs laid out by state planners. People went to temples to burn incense or perform other devotional acts; they carried deities along urban streets in order to inscribe scared geography upon the physical terrain; and they engaged with each other and with the state to define borders between social groups. This was the perspective through which residents manifested and defended ethnic identities around temples and within the city, the island, and the region.

These perspectives were deeply enmeshed with each other and, in combination, they facilitated the process of ethno-genesis that I outline in the main content of the module. In their everyday lives, people interfaced with religious and administrative hierarchies that connected their experiences in the buildings and streets of Jilong to similar spaces and peoples across the island.

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