Post-Imperium Identity Formation and Institution Building: Taiwan, Hong Kong and Central/Eastern Europe Compared

Panel organised by: Thomas Gold (University of California, Berkeley, USA)


Panel topic

How new states emerging from „empires“ construct new identities and democratic institutions

Panel description

Taiwan and Hong Kong were both parts of larger empires and built new identities and institutions but their autonomy remains threatened by China, sparking resistance movements in those societies. The experience of postimperium states in Central and Eastern Europe offers lessons in what challenges need to be faced and how they can be met.
The rise of China as a global power has also spawned resistance movements in the former colonies of Taiwan and Hong Kong respectively, societies that Beijing claims as its own. Activists in those societies have employed historical research, cultural expression, mass movements and external support to assert distinct identities separate from that of China, and build institutions to embody these identities. The core idea for the panel is that these activities are reminiscent of similar efforts in Central and Eastern Europe after the collapse of Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, and the USSR and Soviet bloc, in the 1990s, and offer lessons for Hog Kong and Taiwan. The process of identity formation occurred simultaneously with building new democratic institutions to embody and express political change. The nations that emerged had also historically been part of earlier empires, so the processes of identity formation and institution building have a very long legacy. This panel foresees to bring together 5 scholars from different countries and disciplines to engage in discussion comparing the experience of Taiwan and Hong Kong with the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Poland. Research questions addressed in the papers include: how is a new comprehensive identity formed out of people of diverse ethnic, racial and linguistic backgrounds? How is this identity expressed in visual and performing arts, and in history museums? How do leading figures emerge who can impose their vision over the population, bringing together elites and masses? How do they deal with the non-democratic legacy of the past imperium? Is there authoritarian nostalgia? What role do external actors play in legitimizing and supporting – or obstructing – the new identity? Do societies learn from each other? How do institutions, such as education, law, religion and the bureaucracy adapt to and help legitimize (or obstruct) the new identity? How is new media used? Do elements from the old imperium try to subvert the process? Does democratization facilitate or delay change? How does geography have an impact? Has violence been part of the process? The following scholars have shown interest to commit to this panel: Thomas Gold, (University of California, Berkeley); Tana Dluhosova (Oriental Institute, Czech Academie of Science); Horng-Luen Wang (Academia Sinica, Taiwan); Zlatko Sabic (University of Ljubljana, Slovenia); and Miroslaw Michal Sadowski (McGill University, Canada (Poland)). Their research addresses social change in Taiwan and/or Hong Kong as well as Central/Eastern Europe. Paper writers will also serve as discussants.

Paper proposal

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