Aborigines saved yet again : settler nationalism and hero narratives in a 2001 exhibition of Taiwan aboriginal artifacts




Munsterhjelm, Mark Eric.

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Drawing upon field work, mass media accounts, and Canadian government internal documents, this thesis considers how settler/Aboriginal power relations were reproduced when Taiwan Aboriginal artefacts held by the Royal Ontario Museum were used in a 2001 exhibition in Taipei to commemorate the centennial of the death of the Taiwanese nationalist hero, George Leslie Mackay (1 844-1 901). I argue that this exhibition and related Taiwan-Canada state Aboriginal exchanges have been hierarchically structured by organizational narratives in which coalitions of settler state institutions function as adept heroes who quest to help inept Aboriginal peoples deal with various reified difficulties such as "cultural loss" or "economic development." Aboriginal participants are portrayed as thankful for the heroes' sacrifices and thereby morally validate the heroes' quests and relations between settlers and Aborigines. Helping Aborigines thereby allows for moral claims by involved institutions that just@ the use of Aboriginal exchanges to advance multiple institutional agendas including Canadian government nation branding, Taiwanese government informal diplomacy, and corporate advertising.