Vol. 1 No. 1 (2020): Global Connections

The Construction of National Identity and Historicity in the Tourist Attractions of Taipei and Beijing

Published May 14, 2020


Heritage tourism, or tourism to sites which authentically represent the past and present lives of the people of a nation (National Trust for Historic Preservation, 2010), is indelibly tied to nationalism, and is an important tool which nations and governments use to collectively construct a national identity and narrative. Nationalism uses an imagined common heritage to construct and unite diverse citizens and construct a single, unified national identity (Morais et al., 2010), so heritage sites are the de facto canvasses onto which the collective national identity is created, synthesized, or confirmed. This is especially important in cases of nations which have experienced upheaval and changes in government and social dynamics, such as mainland China and Taiwan. In order to create a synergized and easily digestible version of a complex history, sites are constructed or contextualized to suit a particular narrative. Those which do not suit that narrative may be destroyed, de- emphasized, or reimagined as a new type of heritage. For this reason, the creation and preservation of heritage tourism sites cannot simply be regarded as a politically inert action; instead, we must consider heritage sites as subject to biased selection and interpretation, whose creators utilize history as a tool to further a particular narrative (Morais et al., 2010). This paper sets out to analyze the ways in which heritage tourism sites have been selectively interpreted in Taipei and Beijing to manipulate and modify ideas of historicity, ethnic identity, and national identity in their citizens.