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Words by Michel Lee

'We are Seediq' exhibition

April 22 2023 - January 12 2024
Museum of Ethnography, Stockholm

We are Seediq is an experimental exhibition made in collaboration with the Seediq indigenous people of Taiwan. Seediq means human and is the name of both the language and the people whose story goes back a long way; a story that is being told this year at the Museum of Ethnography. (Opening Programme)

During the Japanese occupation of Taiwan (1895-1945), the Seediq were categorized as Atayal, another indigenous group in Taiwan, despite having their own language and identity. It was not until 2008 that the Seediq were nationally recognised as a distinct group.

We Are Seediq was developed through a co-creative method where our Seediq partners had been invited to tell their own story. Through a research collaboration between the Seediq and the Museums of World Culture, objects that were collected in Seediq communities in the early 20th century but categorized as Atayal have been identified as originating from the Seediq.

Photo: Karl Zetterström (National Museums of World Culture)
Photo: Karl Zetterström (National Museums of World Culture)
Courtesy of National Taiwan University Library

The exhibition is based on the unique collection of Seediq artefacts managed by the Museums of World Culture. Revitalising, reconciliation, and representation of one's own history are central themes of the exhibition.

The descendants of some of the people who created and made these objects are now working with older museum collections to revive lost knowledge of their ancestors. Different generations within the community are working together to rediscover knowledge encoded in the objects that may contain information about Seediq's traditional beliefs, techniques, and the environments in which they lived.

The museum's historical collections will also connect the past with both the present and the future discussing what it means to be Seediq in the 21st century. Members of the Seediq have worked to preserve and revive the culture after decades of cultural repression. The exhibition is a continuation of their work as well as the National Museums of World Culture quest for sustainable relationships with indigenous groups.

We Are Seediq is part of the TAKING CARE Project, co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union. The exhibition is about the rediscovery of a culture and the right of indigenous peoples to represent themselves. The exhibition is developed in collaboration between the National Museums of World Culture, the Seediq National Assembly in Taiwan, and the Indigenous Cultural Heritage Program of Providence University in Taiwan.

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