Written by Leon N. Kunz. In March 2014, participants in the Sunflower Movement peacefully occupied the main chamber of Taiwan’s parliament to block the ratification of a controversial trade agreement with the PRC that they viewed as a threat to Taiwanese democracy. In September of the same year, protesters involved in Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement created street occupations to push for genuine democratic reform. In both cases, participants not merely occupied public space but claimed to engage in civil disobedience. According to the often-cited definition by liberal theorist John Rawls, civil disobedience is “a public, nonviolent, conscientious yet political act contrary to law usually done to bring about a change in the law or policies of the government.” To what extent did the occupations in Taiwan and Hong Kong conform to the dominant liberal civil disobedience script?
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 Isabelle Cheng. Women have a complicated relationship with the wars waged by the nation-state. Women are the reproducers and boundary ma(r)kers of the nation, so women, notably when they embody the nation’s image, are said to be protected by the state as a reason for going to war. They are also projected as the victims of war when the state loses to its enemy, mainly when the enemy uses rape as a weapon to weaken national morale. On the battlefield, women are used as fighters, porters, carers, entertainers or sex slaves to enhance war fighting capacity physically or mentally. During the two world wars, in the state’s propaganda, women were encouraged to ‘give away’ their husbands and sons to the state or were recruited to fill the vacancies left by men to work in the manufacturing, agricultural or transport sectors. Their homemaking and thrifty cooking were characterised as contributing to war efforts. Regardless of which of these roles they play, they are instrumentalised by the state.
Written by Fatimaah J Menefee. Culinary diplomacy, food diplomacy, gastronationalism, and gastrodiplomacy are applied liberally to describe food and diplomacy in contemporary international relations. Culinary Arts as a medium in diplomacy dates to the genesis of humankind. Consider Peaches of Immortality, protected by the Queen Mother in Ancient China, that served as a reward to all faithful mortals and immortals.
Written by Sui Lam Cheung. Taiwan’s international status and sovereignty have always been closely related to US international policies. As a result, the US-Taiwan relation has always attracted widespread attention and discussion. Thus, scholars have begun to pay attention to the American aid culture in economic and cultural fields. For instance, Wang Meihsiang and Chen Chienchung have analysed the US aid literature system from a sociology of literature perspective to explain how Taiwanese intellectuals received direct or indirect economic assistance from the United States. This assistance was used to introduce or develop related cultural production literary works and cultural phenomena. In addition to examining the development of Taiwan’s literary field, US aid culture can also be another perspective to examine non-official views other than the official discourse of the US and Taiwan.
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 Amélie Keyser-Verreault. Many feminist analyses emphasize the influence of neoliberalism in changing maternity and causing intensified beauty pressure. In this article, I seek to inaugurate a discussion of the relationship between motherhood and the quest for beauty, primarily the phenomenon of a new sexy maternity in Taiwan’s neoliberal context. Since the rapid spread of neoliberal ideology might favour the inclusion of beauty as part of human capital—and non-Western societies can be thought of as directly affected by this global beauty culture—it is relevant to observe the phenomenon of regaining one’s body.
Written by Fabricio A. Fonseca. In the spring of 2020, the social media accounts of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) in Mexico City began to share posts made by Mexican federal legislators. In these posts, they showed appreciation for the donations made by Taiwan’s representatives in the country under the difficult circumstances posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Initially, those donations consisted of food baskets and eventually included thousands of face masks. The different images of people across Mexico receiving boxes with the slogan “Taiwan Can Help” (TCH) made me think about how authorities on the island were using different instruments associated with non-traditional diplomacy.
Written by Chun-yi Kuo. From a personal point of view, this essay attempts to shed light on the opening sequence of Huang Ya-Li’s film Le Moulin (2015) by explaining the metaphor of the sequence and the film. I will clarify the history of Taiwan’s cinematographic work, along with that of surrealist poets, and their connection to Taiwan’s national history.
Written by Min-Erh Wang. Historical musicologists focus on studying Western classical music written by Western or Western-trained composers, while ethnomusicologists primarily concentrate on traditional and vernacular music research. Against this background, music scholars in Taiwan tend to pay attention to the musical works and composers or the cultures of traditional genres, such as nanguan and the music of aboriginal people, while leaving the reception of Western classical music overlooked. However, from the late nineteenth century onwards, Western classical music has deeply rooted in Taiwan as well as other East Asian countries as part of the modernisation agenda. Furthermore, during the Cold War, Western classical music was adopted by both the US and Soviet Russia to disseminate their influence over Third World countries.
Written by GuoTing Lin (Kuing). This work uses digital ethnography to consider how Taiwanese indigenous musicians utilise Facebook as their primary official platform for audience communication. I go about this by analysing cover images, profiles, photos, and feeds on Facebook, which is used to depict the details of the texts, photos, and videos. It thus shows the self-presentation and the communication of Taiwanese indigenous musicians concerning cultural and social issues. Moreover, I argue that indigenous musicians perform their identity through online self-presentation in everyday life.
Written by DJ Hatfield. Over the past ten years, images of Indigenous people have increased both in Taiwan and international representation. Indigenous people appear in depictions of Taiwan’s relationships to Southeast Asia and the Pacific, in promotions of Taiwan as a tourist destination, in discourses of sustainability, and images of environmental protest. In relationship to these representations of Indigenous people, Taiwanese Indigenous contemporary artists maintain an ambivalent footing, aware that current indigenous visibility rearticulates Taipei (here referring broadly to settler power) rather than displacing it.