The Museum of the Institute of Ethnology (MIOE), Academia Sinica, is launching an exhibition entitled “Striding Across Political Trauma” on May 20th, 2023. MIOE’s first attempt to explore psychologic themes, the exhibition was curated by Dr. Jen-Yu Peng, associate research fellow at IOE and psychoanalyst specializing in trauma induced by multiple forms of interpersonal violence. The exhibition is an invitation for the public to understand the diverse traumatic experiences among social movement protesters and explore possible pathways towards healing.

The exhibition takes the subjective traumatic experiences of protesters as its starting point and axis of narrative. It reflects upon a paradox that transcends time and space: in every act of resistance against unjust regimes, those in power inflict violence in the name of law, while the activists put themselves in danger to defend a higher Law. Alone and isolated in the crumbling internal and external world, protesters often suffer from incessant waves of traumatic attacks.

Dr. Peng explains that the exhibition primarily draws on the 318 movement, also known as Sunflower Movement, a civil movement that began on March 18, 2014. During the movement, the most intense government crackdown on civilian protests took place since the lifting of martial law in Taiwan.

Through inviting visitors to read and listen to the subjective experiences of 7+n protesters, the exhibition expects to initiate a critical dialogue with mainstream psychiatry on its tendency to standardize, pathologize, and decontextualize trauma.

Dr. Hsun Chang, Director of the IOE, expresses that through thematic exhibitions, the museum wishes to share the research findings of IOE’s scholars with the public. With this exhibition, in particular, the curator hopes to convey that each traumatized protester is a unique subject with diverse experiences, desires, and visions. And any therapist worthy of the name should be a reliable fellow voyager alongside the traumatized subjects, accompanying them on the unpredictable and perilous journey toward healing. The MIOE sincerely invites visitors from all walks of life to witness the multiple imprints of trauma among protesters.

“Striding Across Political Trauma”—Exhibition Launched at Academia Sinica Museum of the Institute of Ethnology