Feeling Taiwaneseness in Urban Choreographies
: Four Qualities of MiQing (瀰情) Dynamics of Monday School in Taipei

  • Chai-Ju Shen

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    In 2011-2012, for the first time, I left my hometown of Taipei and went to Lyon. The pursuit of a nomadic life – feeling different cities with my body (Shentigan 身體感) – was ignited and thenceforth has been enacted. I returned to Taipei in 2013, moved to Tokyo in 2016, and I had a fruitful life in London from 2017 to 2020. The next city is summoning my body, and the research initiated and realised by my body's fascination for urban materialities will reinvigorate there. Carrying the fervent indulgence and investigation, this doctoral project analytically delineates the relationships between city, choreography, and body/ Shentigan and formulates a sense or senses of being Taiwanese (Taiwaneseness) through kinesthesia and affects, instead of the politically assigned or declined identities, the authentic/conventional markers of being Taiwanese. This research asks and examines how feelings emerging from the individual corporeal exploration of the collective city space may assist the understanding of the ways choreographies of certain urban spaces produce perceptions and notions of the potential attributes of Taiwaneseness. Benefiting from theorisations of Taiwanese dancing bodies, the historical transformation of Taiwanese identities, contemporary dance studies and urban studies, this practice-led project attends to the phenomena of how bodies collectively and individually move in urban spaces and provide experimental understandings of Taiwaneseness. The significant enlightenment from notions of body as knowledge, non- representational theory, and Asia as method encourage me to problematise the assumed postcolonial construction of Taiwan and the West. I am then able to distinguish my definition of Taiwaneseness as MiQing (瀰情), the filling dynamics, endowed with four specific qualities: circular viscosity, civic spiral energy, diversity of bodies, and empowerment of movements. With personal experiences and bodily participation in a free outdoor dance course, Monday School in Taipei, I address the intersection of the phenomenal observations of urban dancing bodies from the personal, the collective, to the social embodiments in a layered analytical approach called the 'concentric pathway'. Devising two research tools of the Geo- choreo and kinesthetic autoethnography, I unpick a localised dynamic, diffusing both from individual bodies and collective corporeality within specific urban environments to provide renewed perspectives of Taiwaneseness that have predominantly been approached by cultural representational meanings and political ideologies. This research also aims to renew and diversify the discourse and the praxis of Taiwanese bodies with non-exclusive corporealities in everyday life by offering individual experiences and deciphering material, physical, and temporal connections that have not been fully discovered. Throughout the exploration of how the entry of bodies in certain urban spaces rewrites spatial meanings, in this thesis, Taiwaneseness is for me a contingent amalgamation of various and ambiguous moving bodies of MiQing dynamics that is lasting and driven by the act of care, the attentiveness to feeling others, and feeling within others.
    Date of Award26 Jul 2022
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Roehampton
    SponsorsThe Ministry of Education in Taiwan
    SupervisorGlenn Odom (Director of Studies) & Adrian Heathfield (Co-Supervisor)


    • Taiwanese body
    • city and choreography
    • Taiwaneseness
    • affect studies
    • contemporary dance
    • urban studies
    • Body as Knowledge
    • PAR
    • Asian as Method

    Cite this