Taiwan’s Cultural Diplomacy Policy
: Case studies of Overseas Contemporary Art Exhibitions (2012-2019)

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


As a small state with ambiguous national status and diplomatic limitations, Taiwan has long practised cultural diplomacy (CD) to increase its international visibility. This thesis examines the Taiwanese government’s CD policymaking and implementation (from 2012 to 2019) by studying three cases of government-funded contemporary art exhibitions in the US and Europe. As CD relies on non-state actors such as individual artists, independent curators, and non-Taiwanese museum practitioners, this thesis explores how various actors interact to make decisions jointly for policy implementation, and it highlights how state actors negotiate and collaborate with non- state actors to organise overseas art exhibitions by applying governance theories in public policy and administration. Understanding CD policymaking and implementation from the perspective of public policy has so far been a rarity in scholarship. This thesis is the first and only study dedicated to analysing the actual making of Taiwanese overseas contemporary art exhibitions as an instrument of CD. Its interdisciplinary approach will shed light on the instrumental use of visual arts exhibitions for CD and the politics of decision making in the CD policy process.

The thesis will review the Taiwanese government’s overall CD policy discourse and the governance of CD under the framework of cultural and public policy, and examine policy implementation via empirical case studies: Power, Haunting, and Resilience (2017), Lee Mingwei’s solo exhibitions (2015, 2017, 2018), and the Taiwan Pavilion at the Venice Biennale (1995–2019). It is found that Taiwan’s international politics come first in decision making during the policy process. Nonetheless, two domestic variables play a significant role in shaping CD practices: firstly, contested identity construction leads to dynamic interactions among various actors and multifaceted national images; and secondly, hierarchy and bureaucracy embedded in government organisations and administration have hampered the state actors’ ability to build and sustain public-private collaboration for policy implementation. The case studies demonstrate that, under the international and domestic considerations, state actors collaborate with non-state actors in different ways through hierarchical commands, interdependency, and negotiating consent to construct Taiwan’s national images jointly. When organising overseas art exhibitions as CD practices in the context of informal diplomacy, the thesis suggests that the best strategy for state actors should be grounded in professionalisation, network governance, and contextualised practices.
Date of Award1 Oct 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorHye-Kyung Lee (Supervisor)

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