Writing Taiwan : a study of Taiwan's nativist literature
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Taiwan’s nativist literature, known as Taiwan hsiang-t’u literature, originated in the Japanese occupation when Taiwanese native authors strived to establish a “national” literature distinct from Japanese and Chinese literatures. Drawing on recent colonial/postcolonial theory, this project aims to investigate the process of writing in which the native tongue profoundly undermined the privileged status of the colonizer’s language and through which natives could articulate their colonial existence. It argues that the new conception of Taiwanese writing produced a new literature where the cultural “otherness” was traversed by the language and literature of the colonized. Concurrently, the practice of Taiwanese writing as a means of resistance to the writing of the colonizer constructed a new paradigm for Taiwanese “national” identity. The analysis is organized in three parts. The first part (chapters 1, 2, 3) raises central questions about the postcolonial studies of Taiwan in the context of colonialism. It provides a historical review of Taiwan’s colonized experiences. This historical review not only serves as an account of the rise of nativism in modern Taiwan, but it also constructs a different historical discourse from that rendered by the colonizers. The second part (chapters 4, 5, 6) presents the debates on nativist literature in modern Taiwan’s literary history in order to demonstrate how the nativist discourse was formatted and manipulated in a particular sociopolitical climate. The debates, based on the historical context, can be divided into three phases: 1) the Japanese occupation when natives were striving to legitimatize nativist literature; 2) the KMT rule when nativist discourse was primarily articulated as opposed to colonialism; and 3) the post-colonial period when nativist writing has tended to be recognized as a “national” literature. The third part (chapters 7, 8, 9) undertakes detailed analyses of many literary texts, focusing on such issues as colonial subjectivity, the use of dialect, and exile in Taiwan’s nativist writing. This study attempts to demonstrate the productive and ambivalent force of nativist discourse; it also seeks to shift the understanding of nativism from a nationalistic model of cultural authenticity toward a more radical postcolonial or postmodern perspective that emphasizes difference, plurality, and hybridity.