Taiwan Studies Programme

Framing Futurity: Photography, Religious Diaspora, and Transnational Imaginations of Cold War Taiwan

Location
Online event
Date(s)
Thursday 13th October 2022 (15:00-16:30)
Contact

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Registration URL
https://josephho.eventbrite.co.uk
Description
Joseph Ho 3

The University of Nottingham's Taiwan Studies Programme presents an on online talk.

Framing Futurity: Photography, Religious Diaspora, and Transnational Imaginations of Cold War Taiwan by Joseph W. Ho is Assistant Professor of History at Albion College and a Center Associate at the Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies, University of Michigan.

Talk abstract

The founding of the PRC in 1949 and the Nationalist government’s contemporary retreat to Taiwan put into motion a diasporic movement of missionaries and Chinese Christians out of Mainland China. As connections between global religious institutions and local groups were severed or radically transformed, vernacular visual materials of (and by) participants in this exodus represented nostalgic perceptions of lost historical possibilities. Moreover, in “freezing time,” these materials mediated imagined hopes for the survival of communities split by the Chinese Civil War and Cold War realignments in East Asia. In this talk, I will discuss recently-uncovered rare photographic sources produced by an American Jesuit priest and a Chinese Catholic family caught up in transitions from late Republican China to new Taiwanese roots.

I explore these visual representations in parallel with popular conceptions of Nationalist “Free China,” the “loss of China” in US consciousness, and the ways in which vernacular media and interstitial identity-making framed ground-level Taiwanese experiences. Finally, I trace connections to refashioned religious projects in 1950s–1970s Taiwan as well as fragmentary public and private afterlives. In sum, I explore these images and visual cultures as historically “moving,” imaginatively “eternal” artifacts of imagined futurity – created by and projected onto transnational communities in Cold War Taiwan.

For more information go to josephweiho.com

About Joseph W. Ho

Event review by Dorothy Si Tou, Year 1 Politics and International Relations, and TSP Intern, University of Nottingham

Joseph W. Ho is Assistant Professor of History at Albion College and a Center Associate at the Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies, University of Michigan. His research concerns transnational visual culture in Sino-US encounters and modern East Asian history. Ho is the co-editor of War and Occupation in China: The Letters of an American Missionary from Hangzhou, 1937-1938 (Lehigh University Press, 2017) and author of Developing Mission: Photography, Filmmaking, and American Missionaries in Modern China (Cornell University Press, 2021).
He is currently preparing a co-authored book, Time Exposures: Catholic Photography and the Evolution of Modern China (Hong Kong University Press, forthcoming) and his next monograph, tentatively entitled Bamboo Wireless: Mediating the Cold War in Asia. 
Dr Joseph W Ho shared valuable insights on the power of photography in recording history. Including a local exhibition ‘way faring’ about identity construction and cultural imagination, he presented us a generic way of recreating history yet on the niche topic of Taiwanese Christianity, from the perspective of a priest when Nationalist Party moved to Taiwan. Though as a baptised Catholic, I could confirm Christianity has rarely been a majority in the Sinosphere, the topic he displayed transcends the religious community and dive into the sense of nostalgia amongst that generation of Taiwanese and discussed the tragedy of their collapsing vision, the displacements of their identity, as well as the reframing of senses of belongings. 

This kind of topic is relevant to the situation many people are facing, including mine, an archaeology lens uniting people with shared experience. I could imagine how Dr Ho uncovered fragmented pieces of history, piercing the puzzles together to form a coherent picture. 

We saw thousands of such imageries each day, when our cameras, imbedded on our phones, have essentially became extensions of our visionaries and also ourselves. Our very mortal moments are thus immortalized by these pieces of technologies. Maybe, someday into the future, our descendants would look at our record and envision what our epoch was like. They’ll say, ‘Allow me here, to tell you a piece of history.’

 joseph ho event

Taiwan Studies Programme

University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD