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Durham University

Department of Geography

Departmental Research Projects

Publication details

Zhang, J.J. & Crang, M. Making material memories: Kinmen’s bridging objects and fractured places between China and Taiwan. Cultural Geographies. 2016;23:421-439.

Author(s) from Durham


The post-war material culture of Kinmen, a former military outpost in Taiwan, reveals a biography moving from conflict to hope for rapprochement, from matériel to militaria to souvenir. By experimenting with the concept of sensuous materialism, this paper looks at touristic things from and of the battlefield past and explores how, through their materialities, things interact with people’s senses and shape their understandings of cross-strait relations. Far from being inert, these things are full of life and energy in their ability to animate the object-human relationship. Social memories are enacted through specific material affordances with the senses. Those memories are sensuous, emotional and affective as well as political and historic. Examining the making, staging and consumption of touristic things and how their commemorative materialities interact with and shape people’s consciousness of past histories, present happenings and future dreams helps us gain a more nuanced understanding of the China-Taiwan rapprochement process.

Department of Geography