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Event news: Remembering Dictators – The Politics of Bronze Statues in South Korea and Taiwan

Thanks to Colin Bartlett for forwarding me details of a seminar at SOAS’s main building this evening, hosted by their Centre of Taiwan Studies:

Remembering Dictators: The Politics of Bronze Statues in South Korea and Taiwan

Prof Huang Chang-LingSpeaker: Prof Huang Chang-Ling
Date: 22 June 2016, 5:00 – 7:00 pm
Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: KLT


Could a country build democracy and pay respect to authoritarian rulers at the same? Many young democracies have tried to achieve this seemingly impossible task, since divided memories over authoritarian rulers are common among countries that experienced third-wave democratization.

This paper explores the politics of bronze statutes in South Korea and Taiwan. Both countries have democratized for nearly three decades, yet both countries still face the thorny issues of divided public memories over authoritarian rulers. Taiwanese government allocates huge resources to maintain the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, located at the center of the capital city Taipei. Many school campuses, from elementary schools to colleges, still have Chiang’s bronze statues. South Korea did not build Park Chung-hee’s statues all over the countries like the way Taiwan did with Chiang’s under the authoritarian rule, but in recent years Park’s statues, memorial parks, and memorial libraries have all emerged.

Drawing on the experience of other third wave democracies for comparison, this paper argues that Park’s bronze statutes have created a greater challenge for South Korea than Chiang’s for Taiwan. The challenge for South Korea is whether to allow more statutes to be built, but for Taiwan it is how to have more removed.

Speaker’s Bio

Huang Chang-Ling is associate professor of political science at the National Taiwan University. She received her Ph. D. from the University of Chicago and her research interests are gender politics and minority politics. She has published in various academic journals such as American Journal of Public Health, Developing Economies, Issues & Studies, and Politics & Gender. She was also a contributor of several edited volumes. Her current research interests focus on comparative studies of gender quotas and state feminism. Professor Huang is a recipient of the Outstanding Teaching Award and Outstanding Social Service Award of the National Taiwan University.

Besides teaching and research, Professor Huang has been actively involved in Taiwan’s social movements. Since 2000, she has been a board member of the Awakening Foundation, the earliest established feminist organization of post-war Taiwan, and between 2004 and 2007, she was the president of the foundation. Over the past decade she has also served on various government gender commissions. Since 2013, she is the president of the Taiwan Association for Truth and Reconciliation, a social movement organization that works on transitional justice in Taiwan.

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