This article explores the relationship between public space and the emergence of democracy in Taiwan by focusing on the transformation of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall from a site for legitimizing one-party Guomindang (GMD) rule to one where protest was tolerated and pluralism celebrated. The GMD-led state ultimately allowed contestation at the site because of its long-standing desire to present itself as the antithesis to the Chinese Communist Party. Government encouragement of the use of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall as a place for "displaying" democracy in the late 1980s allowed for its appropriation by the Wild Lily movement of 1990, which successfully pushed the government to enact more thorough-going reforms. Collective memory of this pivotal protest and a multiplicity of appealing public uses at the site have made it a truly public space worth occupying and its symbolic meanings worth fighting over ever since.


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pp. 297-316
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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