Ceramic bananas: looking at Taiwanese cultural identity

Harman, W.H (2016) Ceramic bananas: looking at Taiwanese cultural identity. In: Bath Spa University Early Stage Researcher Conference: Ethics, 16 May 2017, Bath Spa University, Corsham, UK.


This paper will explore the tension between colonial and post-colonial Taiwan. My homeland is culturally situated at the junction between West and East, influenced by multiple cultures and with many historical layers. Our culture was exploited for centuries through occupation by many nations and that influence is still present. The complexity of this political and historical background has informed my perceptions. However, it is difficult to objectively judge the history about the colonialized and colonializing powers. The banana, once the King of Fruits in Taiwan from the 1930s to the 1960s, are smaller than Caribbean bananas, also more chewy and sweet. Bananas remain important in international economic trade in other countries. This fruit has huge political implications linked with who grows them, who trades them and who buys them, associated with human concerns and political awareness. Being a female ceramic artist living and working between two cultures (Taiwan and Britain) offers me a great opportunity to consider myself an outsider in both cultures. I create artwork which reviews and responds to this tension, confusion and ambiguity. As my work develops, I wonder if my bananas can be evaluated and judged within a Western framework. In the last 100 years, Taiwan has struggled to cope with at least three different nationalisms: Japanese, Chinese and Taiwanese. The issue of the existence and definition of Taiwanese cultural identity is very much a question. I intend my ceramic practice to be a symbol of Taiwanese cultural identity, exploring and embodying ideas relating to cultural influences and my personal journey, especially my feelings of cultural homelessness. In this paper, I will use my ceramics, photography, documentary video and audience survey to investigate whether the bananas can be successful as a symbol of Taiwanese cultural identity for different audiences.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Divisions: Bath School of Art, Film and Media
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Date Deposited: 31 Aug 2017 14:08
Last Modified: 15 Aug 2021 09:47
URI / Page ID: https://researchspace.bathspa.ac.uk/id/eprint/10003
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