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Taiwan

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Instructor: Thomas Moran and Rosalyne Shieh
Location: Taiwan
Dates Abroad: May 25 - July 13, 2014

Called an 'unsinkable aircraft carrier' by U.S. General Douglas MacArthur (1950), the U.S. indirectly pledged to defend Taiwan from Chinese aggression, without formally acknowledging its sovereignty. This insensitive quip speaks to Taiwan's complicated political situation throughout its history. Taiwan has enjoyed and suffered from being a key strategic location for powerful regimes hoping to control Southeast Asia, as evidenced by its colonization by a succession of world powers. Taiwanese identity has persisted through resistance and assimilation: resistance to occupation and a lithe ability to assimilate numerous global cultures—eastern and western. While this complex identity is always changing, its history is written into the architecture, urbanism, and infrastructure of this small island nation.

This traveling spring course will investigate the relationship between identity and its representation in the built environment. Based in Tainan, Taiwan's original capital, the course is organized around excursions to locations important to Taiwan's history and identity. Destinations include tropical islands, colonial jungle railways, and of course the modern capital of Taipei.

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