Written by Yi-Yu Lai. One afternoon in 2011, Hong-sui Lim visited a Kaxabu village due to his participation in an anthropological camp. This marked his first encounter with the Kaxabu people, one of the Plain Indigenous groups inhabiting the Puli Basins in central Taiwan. Lim was astonished by the small number of Kaxabu elders who still speak their mother tongue, as it is commonly believed that Plain Indigenous peoples have been assimilated by Han Chinese culture and have lost their own languages and traditions. As a result, Lim returned to the Kaxabu communities as an undergraduate student to learn more about their endangered cultural heritage and began collaborating with the Kaxabu people.
Category: Culture and society
Beyond Maps: Indigenous 3D Mapmaking as a Path to Indigenous Resurgence
Written by Sra Manpo Ciwidian. To assert Indigenous sovereignty over our land, especially the traditional territories, the Indigenous peoples of Taiwan have employed various approaches to demonstrate our rights. Making a three-dimensional map model of Indigenous communities is the most prevalent among these approaches. Since the late 1990s, when the Kucapungane community of Rukai people produced the first Indigenous 3D map model in Taiwan, contemporary Indigenous communities in Taiwan have been developing this community-based mapping method for over three decades.
Storytelling Behind the Overseas Taiwan Indigenous Collections: Material Cultures as a Means to Connect with International Indigenous Communities
Written by Nikal Kabalan’an (Margaret Yun-Pu Tu). Taiwan’s Indigenous artefacts were taken, bought, brought, or even got stolen and ended up miles away from the Indigenous communities where they were made by the hands of Indigenous ancestors. Some of these Taiwan Indigenous collections were already kept in a foreign museum overseas for almost a hundred years. Some of these museums are devoted to reflecting the devastating colonial history and decolonising the space by, for example, rewriting the narratives, displaying their collections in more inclusive ways, and collaborating with the cultural communities from which these cultural holdings originated. The Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture in Seattle, Washington States, United States, where I am currently leading the review and engagement plan for the Indigenous Taiwan holdings with my colleagues, is one example of decolonising the museums.
Indigenous Youth Actions in Taiwan: Connecting Our Voices to the Global Stage
Written by Sra (Bo-Jun Chen). Taiwan’s Indigenous peoples are becoming increasingly concerned with various global issues that are also highly pertinent to our own situation in Taiwan, such as environmental, human rights, and cultural heritage issues. In recent years, for instance, Indigenous youth in Taiwan have realised the significance of language and identity revitalisation, which may assist us in combating oppression. Moreover, we have found that the insensitivity of our lands and ignorance of our history pose a far greater threat to us than the plundering of our resources and hazards to our lives. Some Indigenous youth are thus committed to overcoming obstacles influenced by colonialism and strive to bring our voices and agendas to the global stage. Through our participation on the international stage, we aspire to be heard and have more conversations about similar difficulties.
The Mysterious Tsou Shaman: The Guardian of Traditional Culture
Written by tanivu yasiungu and Aaron Valdis Gauss. Living high up in quiet Ali Mountain, the Tsou shamans intimately connect with the earth and the ancestral spirits. But, of course, they are also connected with the most beloved god of the Tsou tribe––Hamo. Another important role of the Tsou shamans is to preserve, perpetuate and affirm Tsou myths, thereby maintaining a connection with the ancestors. Tsou shamans believe that working with nature is the most suitable way for everyone to live. We, the Tsou people, have always believed that being simple and pure in our beliefs is the only way to maintain the closest relationships with our god Hamo.
Leveraging Cultural Exports for Resilience: Insights from Taiwan and South Korea
Written by Tommy Hall and Margaret Siu. Global discussions about Taiwan often focus on an invasion scenario, and many observers wonder if Taiwan is adequately preparing for war. These discussions often dissect Taiwan’s hard power—military and economic factors that may dissuade Beijing. However, soft power is crucial in conflicts between imbalanced parties. Current discussion would benefit from diversifying outside hard power calculations and examining Taiwan’s soft power. Taiwan should apply lessons from South Korea’s model to bolster its ability to co-opt global support. Describing Taiwan’s soft power vision and comparing both nations’ top-down cultural promotion efforts is helpful.
Will the KMT’s Generational Divide Harm its 2024 Election Prospects?
Written by Andrew LaRocca. Caesar, The Planet of the Apes protagonist who incites a rebellion to usher in a new civilization, was recently drawn into the KMT’s internal debates when Taipei City councillor Hsu Chiao-hsin changed her Facebook profile picture to Caesar amidst her escalating battle with senior legislator Fei Hongtai. In the comments, netizens joked: “How many terms can upper leaders serve? How old are those seniors?” Hsu’s Caesar reference reflected a sentiment expressed by many Taiwanese youths: the KMT and its leaders are out of touch with Taiwan’s younger generations.
Wave Makers on Netflix: A Vision of Taiwanese Politics Not ‘Amid Tensions’
Written by Chieh-Ting Yeh. “Wave Makers” (2023; 人選之人-造浪者) is a new drama on Netflix about political staffers trying to win a presidential election in the last few months of the campaign. This may sound like the premise of many television shows in the political intrigue genre, but it is the first of its kind from Taiwan to be available to a worldwide audience. The drama addresses various political issues relevant to contemporary Taiwan, including environmental concerns, energy policies, and workplace sexual harassment, reflecting the ongoing public debates on these topics. But it is glaring in what it is missing: Taiwan-China relations.
Queering the Intergenerational Remembrance of the White Terror
Written by Linshan Jiang. In 2020 and 2021, the National Human Rights Museum and Spring Hill Publishing released two literary collections on the White Terror in Taiwan (1947–1987): a four-volume novel collection entitled Making the Past in the Moment (2020) and a five-volume essay collection, entitled Soul and Ash (2021), co-edited by two Taiwanese writers, Hu Shuwen (1970– ) and Tong Weiger (1977– ). “White Terror” refers to the 50-year oppressive rule by the Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang, KMT) in Taiwan after the Republic of China took over Taiwan from Japan in 1945. Then the KMT lost the Chinese Civil War (1945–1949) and was exiled to Taiwan in 1949. As a result, it is officially known as the martial law period. Although it should be admitted that the concept of “white terror” may not encompass every aspect of the martial law period, my focus is on the continuing oppression of the people due to KMT’s authoritarian rule, and I will mainly use White Terror to refer to this period in this article.
Understanding Taiwanese Literature Beyond Borders
Written by Jenna Tang. Literature from Taiwan is considerably underrepresented in the English-speaking world. Several literary themes are specific to the place, its languages, cultures, and history that haven’t been fully explored over time. As a Taiwanese writer and translator myself, I am often questioned: “How do these books from Taiwan travel across borders?”
Taiwanese Literature through the Lens of World Literature: Publications in 2022 and 2023
Written by Jessica Ssu-Chieh Fan. The past year, from 2022 to 2023, has witnessed some exciting achievements in Taiwanese literature. Malaysian-Chinese Taiwan-based novelist Chang Kuei-hsing won the Newman Prize for Chinese Literature, one of the most prestigious literary prizes for contemporary prose and poetry written in Chinese. From the discourses surrounding this literary event, including Chang’s acceptance speech and the remarks by Chang’s nominator E.K. Tan, some evolving trends related to broader paradigm shifts in Taiwanese literary studies can be discerned. Both Chang and Tan referenced the hybrid transcultural aesthetic influences epitomised by Chang’s literary style, which Tan described as “a unique branch of Chinese literature as world literature.” Another Taiwanese writer who has garnered significant international attention is Kevin Chen. His novel Ghost Town, translated into English by Darryl Sterk, was featured on the Best Books of World Literature of 2022 by Library Journal and on the longlist of the PEN Translation Prize 2023.
Situating Taiwanese Literature in the Framework of World Literature
Written by Pei-yin Lin and Wen-chi Li. World literature, a term for which Goethe is usually credited as the first proponent, has generated discussions in the West since the second half of the 20th century, particularly since the late 1990s. Casanova’s sociological studies of the “world republic of letter,” Moretti’s call for a “distant reading” and attention to variations in the genre, and Damrosch’s shying away from the literary canon to the circulation of texts are oft-quoted examples. These discussions have left noticeable impacts on the discipline of comparative literature, encouraged us to step out of the usual aesthetics confined by “great tradition”, as Leavis notes, and expanded our understanding of a literary canon beyond Shakespeare and Flaubert to include Mahfouz and Cao Xueqin. Nevertheless, these narratives cannot escape their European and North American backgrounds. Examples proposed by scholars or readers, such as The Guardian’s “The 100 Greatest Novels of All Time,” are often coloured by the Euro-American centrism in which Western works emerge, receive canonisation, circulate within Europe and North America, and subsequently are distributed to the rest of the world.