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Research Students - Material Culture
Yang-Yi Kuo  
Yang-Yi Kuo  

Year of start: 2008
Material Culture

BSc Zoology 1999
National Taiwan University (Taiwan)

MArch Architectural Design 2004
Tunghai University (Taiwan)

MA Material & Visual Culture 2007
University College London

Research Topic/ Provisional Dissertation Title

Lost Home(lands) Reinvented: Material Culture of the Chinese Diaspora and Their Family in Taiwan


Chris Tilley


This research delves into the everyday practice of the now-elderly Chinese diaspora (waishengren) who retreated from China to Taiwan after World War II. In the thesis, it compares and contrasts how waishengren and their family, either from mainland China or island Taiwan, make sense of dwelling in Taiwan for more than a half century, and how they define their relationship with other (imagined) ethnic groups in Taiwan through material culture, which is revealed by (1) interviewing waishengren and their families; (2) phenomenologically describing public and domestic space; (3) investigating the (in)significance of home(lands) to them, and (4) exploring the way Chinese diaspora situate themselves in a time of emerging “Taiwanese statehood”. Semi-structured interviews with forty households were conducted in LN Village in Hsinchu City of northern Taiwan, whilst photographs, maps, spatial diagrams, floor plans, selected socio-spatial data and archives are exhibited and analysed in order to further understand how the Chinese diaspora and their family construct multiple identities through homes and potted-plant gardens in contemporary Taiwan.

Research interests

  • Anthropology of Space
  • Diasporas
  • Everyday Life Studies
  • Material Culture Studies
  • Phenomenology
  • Taiwan Studies

Academic Background/Education

MA in Material Culture Studies, University College London (2007)

MArch in Architectural Design, First Professional Degree, Tung-hai University (2004)

BSc in Zoology, National Taiwan University (1999)


KUO, Yang-Yi. (2008). Collecting Memories of Migrant Chinese: Notes on Juancun Museum/ Galleries in Taiwan. Paper presented at the The Third Biennial Conference of Museum Studies: Culture and Science of Museum Collecting, National Museum of Natural Science, Taichung City.

KUO, Yang-Yi. (2010). Towards a Phenomenology of Exhibition Space: Understanding Museums through Bodily Experiences. Paper presented at the The Fourth Biennial Conference of Museum Studies: The Landscapes of Museum Exhibition, Graduate Institute of Museum Studies, Taipei National University of the Arts.

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