City of Displacements

Joseph R. Allen

  • Published: 2011
  • Subject Listing: Asian Studies / China; History
  • Bibliographic information: 288 pp., 35 illus., 6 x 9 in.
  • Territorial rights: World Rights
  • Contents

Winner of the Joseph Levenson Post-1900 Book Prize

This cultural study of public space examines the cityscape of Taipei, Taiwan, in rich descriptive prose. Contemplating a series of seemingly banal subjects - maps, public art, parks - Joseph Allen peels back layers of obscured history to reveal forces that caused cultural objects to be celebrated, despised, destroyed, or transformed as Taipei experienced successive regime changes and waves of displacement. In this thoughtful stroll through the city, we learn to look beyond surface ephemera, moving from the general to the particular to see sociocultural phenomena in their historical and contemporary contexts.

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Joseph R. Allen is professor of Chinese literature and cultural studies at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, and author of In the Voice of Others: Chinese Music Bureau Poetry and translator of Forbidden Games and Video Poems: The Poetry of Yang Mu and Lo Ch'ing.

"Through the prism of Taipei's development, Allen masterfully covers many aspects of visual culture in Taiwan during the past century. The book details cultural debates with insight and draws on many visual forms. Taipei is bound to become a prime source on Taiwan culture."
-Yomi Braester, author of Painting the City Red: Chinese Cinema and the Urban Contract
Note to Readers

1. Mapping the City
2. Picturing the City
3. Traffic in the City
4. A Park in the City
5. Display in the City
6. Statues in the City
7. A Horse in a Park in a City on an Island in the Sea

Postface: Theoretical Considerations
Chinese and Japanese Glossary
Works Cited

"Insightful and inviting . . . this text not only will elucidate Taipei for newcomers and old-timers but will also raise interesting urban questions for comparative readings across many modern cities that demand equal system, skill, and affection. Highly recommended."
-Choice, June 2012

"I highly recommend this book to readers interested in the cultural history of Asian cities."
-Anru Lee, The China Journal, No. 69

"The inspiration to write Taipei: City of Displacements came as he pondered the city's history during one of his frequent walks in the old city center. Therefore, he returned to Taipei in 1999 to put his literary training to use by studying Taipei as a text. . . . Readers interested in history...will find a fascinating study."
-Donald Silver, Taiwan Review

"[A]n interesting and insightful book about the cultural politics of public place in a postcolonial East Asian city. Combining investigation of historical material and long-term observation of contemporary urban saces, Joseph Allen presents a brilliant spatial reading of historical and present-day Taipei."
-Liang-Yi Yen, China Review International