Speaker Biography

Prof. Dr. Chia-yu Hu

Dr. Hu's research interests cover material culture, cultural heritage, museum anthropology on culture collecting and ethnographic exhibition. She has conducted fieldwork research on the role of collective memory and culture symbols among the Indigenous groups of Taiwan. In the recent years, she is investigating the developmental phenomena relating to the cultural heritage and memory politics in Taiwan from anthropological perspectives. The major research project that she has conducted lately is "Information Exchange, Collaborative Research and Digitalization of Taiwan Ethnological Collections in Overseas Museums" (funded by the National Science Council of Taiwan, 2007-2013, Ministry of Education 2015-2017). Latest publications include Artifacts, Forms and Taiwan Indigenous Art (National Taiwan University Press, 2015, in Chinese); The Saisiyat (San Ming Book Co., 2015, in Chinese); Threads of Splendor: Taivon Pingpu Clothes and Embroidery Collections (Kaohsiun History Museum, 2014, in Chinese); "Dispersed Collections and Articulated Memories: Two Cases of Making Transnational Linkages to Taiwan Indigenous Collections" (Journal of Museum and Culture, 2012, No. 3, pp.3-28, in Chinese); "Indigenous Ritual as Intangible Cultural Heritage in Taiwan-Reflections on Heritage Politics and Cultural Transmission" (in Tik-sang Liu ed's. Intagible cultural heritage and local communities in East Asia, Hong Kong Heritage Museum, 2011, pp.201-225, in Chinese).


This article aims to explore the ambivalent forces entangled in the production of intangible culture heritage (ICH). In particular, discussions will be focused on different approaches of official practices and local practices in Taiwan. On the basis of diversified motives and interests, official forces and local agencies are interacted or confronted in the process of ICH production. Following the global movements of ICH, projects on designating and safeguarding ICH has become focal points promoted in the cultural policy after issuing a revised "Cultural Property Preservation Law" by the Taiwanese government in 2005. On the other hand, after the martial law was lifted in Taiwan, many local communities have actively worked on the revitalization of cultural traditions and the representation of distinctive 'pasts' for constructing identities or accumulating powers since the 1990s.

From a critical and constructive perspective, this article examines how official practices influence local practices in the process of ICH identification, categorization, registration, promulgation, and subsidization. At the same time, how local communities respond or oppose to official manipulations will also be analyzed. Two examples from Taiwan will be provided to explicate the entanglements and diversified practices, from which two major ICH categories officially classified in Taiwan-'heritage of folk customs' and 'heritage of traditional arts' will be covered. One example is the Saysiyat paSta'ay ritual, which is a famous indigenous religious ceremony registered as national folk heritage in 2013. Another example is a master artisan on Chinese god statue carving and decorating, who is registered as a national living treasure on traditional craft in 2011. This article argues that the preservation of ICH as a living culture is heavily depending on the understanding of local perspectives and local interests. Safeguarding or sustainably managing of ICH should be based on the construction of supportive contexts for local communities or cultural heirs. Therefore, more attentions have to be paid on negotiating conflicts and developing ways to generate political, economic, socio-cultural and educational benefits for local communities.