BA in History
The study of Taiwan's history is permeated by questions of identity. Since 1600, the island has been, among other things, a Dutch colonial outpost, a refuge for Ming loyalists, a provincial frontier of the Qing Dynasty, a Japanese colony, and, since the end of World War II, the home of the Republic of China (ROC). However, sixty years after Taiwan's "retrocession" to the government of Chiang Kai-shek, questions of Taiwan's cultural and national identity persist.
This paper takes the 1970s to be an important turning point in Taiwan's identity discourse. Beginning with a discussion of the various political and diplomatic setbacks that unfolded during the decade, this paper incorporates Benedict Anderson's theory of "imagined communities" to move beyond the typical analysis of political structures and trace the evolution of a Taiwan-centric identity through developments in culture from the 1970s to the 1990s. Analyzing the short stories of Huang Chun-ming and the films of Edward Yang and Hou Hsiao-hsien, this paper argues that film and literature were critical mediums through which individuals challenged the national government's Sinocentric conception of the island's cultural and national identity, localized the narrative of Taiwanese history and everyday life, and effectively (re)imagined Taiwan.