Event — Roundtable

Constructive Contestation around Urban Heritage in Taipei: Exploring A New Approach for Cities in Asia

Taipei International Roundtable Forum 2012 on urban heritage

Organized by the Graduate Institute of Building and Planning, National Taiwan University (Taipei, Taiwan), IIAS, and the Urban Knowledge Network Asia, in collaboration with the Institute of Sociology and Institute of Taiwan History, Academia Sinica.

The 2012 Taipei International Roundtable Forum invites close to forty local and international participants from the academics, NGOs, grassroots organizations and the public sector. Through in-depth site visits, intensive moderated discussion and comparative analysis of experiences of other Asian cities, the Forum seeks to identify and interpret the significance of urban heritage preservation and development in Taipei, and to further propose policy/research recommendations for future actions.

Background information
Taipei’s rich history at the crossroads of diverse cultures and influences has contributed to the shaping of a unique urban (physical, social and cultural) landscape and vernacular culture. The various layers of this landscape have been applied by—among others—the indigenous, aboriginal peoples of Taiwan, Han Chinese immigrants, post-1949 Kuomintang immigration, as well as more recent immigration by foreign workers and spouses from Southeast Asian countries and China. The Qing dynasty, Japanese colonial government, the presence of U.S. armed forces in the post-war period, and the recent emergence of grassroots cultural identity have all contributed to urban architecture and landscape with distinct periodic characters. In the energetic society of Taiwan, the meaning of ‘heritage’ continues to be explored and re-interpreted in the new context. Today, the greater Taipei can claim to possess “multiple heritages”, combining the material as well as immaterial; modern as well as traditional; urban, peri-urban/rural; and indigenous as well as more recent and imported heritages. More than any other Chinese and Asian cities, the metropolis constitutes both a repository and a creative cradle where cultural and social memories and identities coexist, interact and reshape themselves. The combined effect of social-economic affluence and democratization has led to the reevaluation of the concept of urban heritage into a truly multi-dimensional and therefore trans-disciplinary area of investigation and action.

Taipei may be unique in Asia because: civil society and grassroots movements are energetic and vibrant on the one hand; the government also responds with improvement of policies and structures, on the other. The continuous interaction between both parties expands the idea and imagination of ‘heritage’. This culturally dynamic process of dialogue and negotiation, sometimes evolving into conflicts, has manifested in dietary culture, craft creation, art performance and preservation of architecture and memorial buildings. In Taipei, the expansion of the idea of ‘heritage’ undoubtedly is highly relevant with the increased awareness of culture citizenship, which also holds the key to the future potential of Taipei’s urban heritage.

For a detailed description of the roundtable, programme, and participants, please download the PDF files below.