The Archaeological Study of the Military Dependents Villages of Taiwan

  • Chieh-fu Jeff ChengEmail author
  • Ellen Hsieh
Part of the Contributions To Global Historical Archaeology book series (CGHA, volume 35)


In this chapter we consider military dependents’ villages (MDV), juancun, of Taiwan as a subject for the archaeological study of modern ruins. MDVs were built in Taiwan after the retreat of the Nationalist Government from Mainland China to Taiwan at the end of the Chinese Civil War between 1945 and 1949. In order to settle a large number of military personnel and their dependents from Mainland China, more than 800 MDVs were built as temporary settlements throughout Taiwan beginning in the 1950s. Since the retreat was supposed to be temporary, these MDVs were built simply. However, the plan to invade Mainland China was never realized because of the changing political situation. As a result, the MDVs became long-term settlements for the diaspora group, Waishengren. Beginning in the 1970s, the government initiated programs to reconstruct the MDVs. Since then, many MDVs have been reconstructed to serve as public housing or other public buildings. Some of the MDVs have already been torn down, but no construction has been done yet. A small number of MDVs have remained intact and are awaiting reconstruction; the villagers now moved elsewhere. These decaying MDVs became an obstacle for urban renewal. However, in recent years, some of the MDVs have been preserved for their social value. Some of them were preserved because of their representation of the Waishengren identity and others were preserved of artistic value. Our research examines the construction, destruction, ruination, and reuse of MDVs in the past 60 years. We argue that this contemporary archaeological project concerning the social life of modern ruins will provide us with new perspective to interpret how a settlement is built, remodeled, and rebuilt in any archaeological context.


Public Housing Military Personnel Heritage Site Urban Renewal Historical Archaeology 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ArchaeologyBoston UniversityBostonUSA
  2. 2.Cotsen Institute of ArchaeologyUniversity of California at Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA

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