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Title: 'Crossing borders' : cultural-geo-politics of rapprochement tourism between China and Taiwan
Author: Zhang, Jiajie
ISNI:       0000 0004 2739 293X
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis is concerned with the cultural-geo-politics of rapprochement tourism between China and Taiwan in the era of warming cross-strait relations. By moving away from state-centric approaches to the study of cross-strait tourism, it interrogates themes surrounding the concepts of ‘border’, ‘identity’ and ‘materiality’, in an attempt to offer a more nuanced understanding of the everyday micro-politics at play. More specifically, the thesis considers different taming strategies engaged by the authorities on both sides in dealing with sensitive histories and difficult heritages, and how their practices are materialised in the tourism landscape. In doing so, this study probes the often assumed processes of rapprochement that result from and animate the cross-border exchanges by providing powerful examples of how tourists respond to attempts to manipulate their opinions, how they interpret ideologically loaded materials on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, but also of the genuine curiosity and good will that can result. This showcases the everyday experiences of tourists and the various bordering practices they enact and encounter during their travel. Discussions on tourists’ subjectivities show that far from being passive ‘numbers’ or ‘flows’ as often assumed by economic-centric studies, cross-strait tourists are actively shaping the rapprochement landscape. Furthermore, inquiries into the material cultures of memory and identity provide novel insights that go well beyond the state-led ‘peace through tourism’ initiatives to look at how commercial culture is shaping and responding to memories and cross-strait movements. Empirical findings are able to unpack how the border is experienced through a range of artefacts – from border controls to travel documents and cross-border purchases that extend beyond the literal border. Additionally, this research also broadens the sensorium by looking beyond ‘sight’ seeing to incorporate the olfactory, tactile, auditory and gustatory senses in discussing knives made from artillery shells, music events in a defunct military tunnel, and foods offered by local entrepreneurs. Finally, in acknowledging that tourists are not the only subjects of tourism, the thesis examines the roles played by ghosts and deities in their participation of cross-strait rapprochement tourism. In doing this, it demonstrates that rapprochement tourism is more about ‘interactions along the side’ rather than state-level diplomatic exchanges. Forays into consumption practices, identity construction (both national and self), and border (un)making could prove to be significant in the advent of unprecedented tourist exchanges between China and Taiwan.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available