Written by Fang Tang. In the early 1920s, many writers from mainland China migrated to Taiwan because of socio-political upheavals, thus began their unending diasporic ‘escape’ journey. One of these authors, Hualing Nieh, expresses the thoughts of a generation of diasporic writers, illustrating in her work with particular emphasis the theme of ‘escape.’ Born in 1925 in Wuhan, Hubei, China, Nieh experienced the Sino-Japanese War and the Chinese Civil War.
Written by Max Lembke-Soh. EggPlantEgg 茄子蛋 has fast become a significant player. Rocketing to popularity in 2017, EggPlantEgg received multiple Golden Melody Awards and nominations recognising their distinctly Taiwanese vibes, making full use of Taiyu’s broad intonation range to melodise lyrics across a variety of sounds. The band has no shortage of commentators lauding their style, highlighting their passionate use of Taiyu to express everything from love and yearning to relationships and loss.
Written by Ti-han Chang. At the crossroad of the 21st century, we see the rise of a new transition in Taiwanese literature. In the era of anthropogenic climate change, environmental literature or ecocriticism, which was first established in the Anglophone literature begins to sow its seeds in Taiwan in the late 80s and early 90s. Alongside this new transition, aboriginal literature in Taiwan also underwent a phase of cultural renaissance in the same period. Work published by Syaman Rapongan 夏曼藍波安, Walis Nokan瓦歷斯諾幹, and Topas Tamapima 拓拔斯塔瑪匹瑪 (田雅各) enrich and diversify the literary scene in Taiwan. The work of Rapongan, which promotes sea-writing and oceanic cultural imaginary, deserves, especially our attention.
Written by Yahia Zhengtang Ma. The last decade of the twentieth century was an especially interesting time in the emergence of ‘tongzhi literature’. This genre consists of literary works that ‘deal with homosexuals and homosexuality’ in Taiwan when queer cinema was introduced to Taiwan via Hong Kong. The 1990s are widely considered the golden age of tongzhi literature, animated by such widely-celebrated literary works by Ta-wei Chi, Chu T’ien-wen, Qiu Miaojin, among many others. However, existing scholarship on this has primarily emphasised the complexity of the tongzhi identity, subjectivity, and discourse around tongzhi, tongxianglian and queer in solely its original Chinese texts through the lens of cultural studies and literary studies.
Written by P. Kerim Friedman. We often assume that all language learning serves the same purpose: communicating with native speakers of the target language. The truth is that this is not always the case. There are many other reasons people might decide to learn a language: It might be a requirement for school, work, or citizenship. A philosopher might want to read German, and a linguist might only desire to learn enough Japanese to analyse the language’s grammatical or phonetic structure. Many people worldwide learn Hebrew, Latin, or Arabic as part of their religious training and only use those languages in that limited context.
Written By Jane Tsay. Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in January 2020, Taiwan’s Central Disease Control Centre has been calling press conferences almost every day. However, TV viewers’ main focus during the latest pandemic news from Chen Shih-Chung seems to be on the CDC director and Minister of Health and Welfare. Because of this, many people’s attention has also been drawn to the Taiwan Sign Language interpreter standing next to him.
Written by Nguyễn Thị Thanh Hà and Isabelle Cheng. It has been more than three decades since Southeast Asian nationals began to work and establish their families in Taiwan. Men and women from the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and Cambodia fill the labour shortage in construction, fishing, manufacturing, care and agricultural industries, whilst the women became members of Taiwanese society because of their marriage and family formations. This ongoing regional migration flow has enriched the socio-cultural landscape of Taiwan, where multiculturalism becomes the prevailing normative value that respects and appreciates differences. Nevertheless, this development has not been smooth or unchallenged.
Written by Milo Hsieh. Alan Yang’s first feature film, Tigertail, recounts the tale of Pin-jui, a Taiwanese immigrant estranged from his family after arriving in New York. The Taiwanese backdrop sets the film apart from The Farewell, which also captured attention with its Asian American immigrant narrative. This has heightened expectations among Taiwanese and diaspora audiences for a film that portrays Taiwan not as a generic East Asian country but one with a unique culture and history.
Written by Justin Kwan. In an attempt to reach audiences in Taiwan and Hong Kong, China has attempted to use both Hokkien and Cantonese in its messaging through media and popular culture, eliciting mixed responses from locals in both places. In the case of Taiwan, Beijing resorted to a strategy of direct coercion in 2018, when it released a dubbed propaganda video in Hokkien titled ‘God of War’. The video featured bomber aircrafts flying around Taiwan, a warning from Beijing for the islands Taiwanese-speaking activists to curb their so-called ‘pro-independence’ activities.
Written by Ann Heylen. Taiwan presidential election campaigning would be incomplete without language controversies. On 3 November during her Taichung ‘Chia-fen lectures’, Lee Chia-fen, spouse of KMT presidential candidate Han Kuo-yu, spoke up in support of her husband’s vision of educational policy. Here we will examine some of the responses to these statements.