Visualizing Hygiene: Hygiene Exhibitions in Colonial Taiwan during the 1910s

Author Info
Yen-Chiou Fann
National Taiwan Normal University

This paper studies the early development of hygiene exhibitions in colonial Taiwan. It focuses on ho exhibitions promoted the production and circulation of knowledge about sanitation, and how the colonial hygiene policy was imposed on viewers through a specific visualizing technique. The author concludes that the hygiene exhibitions of the 1910s were influenced by both European and Japanese examples, particularly the First International Hygiene Exhibition, held in Dresden in 1911. Moreover, the Japanese concept of 「popular education,」 which involved training viewers via their eyes, clearly had a profound impact. The author traces the evolution of the colonial government's 「visualizing technique.」 Early displays followed what one might call institutional logic. But this yielded a certain redundancy, so the colonial government took to framing exhibitions by classifying hygienic knowledge. In the third stage, the government adopted a viewer-oriented strategy that dictated the logic of the displays: once viewers entered an exhibition, they were immediately placed in a systematic space of hygienic knowledge. That eventually became the dominant form of exhibition for the later period. The colonial power achieved its goal of 「education via the eyes,」 as commercial interests penetrated these exhibitions, when the showcased sanitary goods were gradually adopted in the daily life of the Taiwanese.

Taiwanese Journal for Studies of Science, Technology and Medicine, Number 7