On the reproduction of indigenous heritage (in Taiwan): Marzia Varutti, ‘Crafting heritage: artisans and the making of Indigenous heritage in contemporary Taiwan’, International Journal of Heritage Studies, 2015
Abstract: Since the 1990s, Indigenous groups in Taiwan have been increasingly engaged in retrieving and reviving cultural practices that are considered ‘traditional’ and markers of Indigenous identities. This article takes such recent and ongoing revival of cultural practices and connected material culture amongst Taiwanese Indigenous groups as the departure point to argue that the idea of a ‘contemporary Indigenous heritage’ is constructed (notably by Indigenous artists and artisans) through the conflation of ‘tradition’, ‘value’, ‘authenticity’ and ‘indigeneity’, as well as creativity and innovation. In the article, I endeavour to explain this process. To this end, I identify and illustrate a set of strategies and discourses through which Indigenous artists and artisans in Taiwan construct their work as both ‘Indigenous’ and ‘heritage’. I suggest that such strategies and discourses revolve around the following: (i) materiality, (ii) visual display and performance, (iii) Indigenous cultural research and (iv) knowledge transmission. Building on the Taiwanese case study, this article furthers scholarly enquiries into the making of heritage by generating an enhanced understanding of the role of artists and artisans in the creation, renewal, authentication and transmission of ‘Indigenous heritage’.
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