Contesting Places, Spaces, and Stories
Edited By Ahmet Atay, Yea-Wen Chen and Alberto González
3. When “Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Square” Became “Liberty Square”: A Case of Contested Public Memories in Taiwan
San Diego State University
On September 7, 2017, the National Chengchi University (NCCU) in Taiwan announced its intent to remove one of their two Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) bronze statues. As the founder of NCCU, the removal of the Chiang Kaishek statue signals the further “de-Chiang[-] ification” (去蔣化) in contemporary Taiwan (Matten, 2011, p. 83). As a political and military leader, Chiang Kai-shek (1887–1975) is a historically significant yet controversial figure in Taiwan. He is remembered simultaneously as a hero who led the Kuomintang Party (KMT) to liberate Taiwan from Japanese colonization during World War II, and also as a dictator who orchestrated the February 28th massacre (also referred to as 228 Incident) in 1947 and enforced martial law for almost four decades on the island. Nonetheless, many people, especially KMT party members and supporters, still refer to Chiang as the father and the guardian of Taiwan, which has resulted in a personality cult of Chiang. A year after his death in 1975, a 25 hectares memorial park, including the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall (CKSMH), a surrounding square, and a traditional Chinese style garden, was built to commemorate his legacy. Because of its feudal-temple-like design and Chiang’s dictatorship, the CKSMH has been likened to “Marquis Chiang’s Temple” (Hatfield, 2008). In this essay, we focus on competing public memories about Chiang Kai-shek and controversies over his legacy by analyzing public discourses of the CKSMH as a...
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