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«Visualising culture and gender: postcolonial feminist analyses of women's exhibitions in Taiwan, 1996-2003 This item was submitted to Loughborough ...»

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M. Turner, © 2008 problems of the riots. Chiang’s troops had been trained to fight against the communist forces in China’s civil war, and as soon as they arrived on the island they started rounding up and executing people, especially the local leaders of the protest movement and the professional classes, most of whom had been educated and trained in the period of Japanese colonial rule.25 George Kerr details his personal experience during the 228 Incident in Formosa Betrayed (1966) and argues that the massacre targeted the intellectuals and social élite, especially the members of the Settlement committees, teachers, lawyers, newspaper editors and other well-educated Taiwanese.26 As to the number of

Taiwanese who were killed during the Incident, Steven Philips explains that:

Estimates of the number killed range from ridiculously low (500) to high (100,000). Those who have closer ties to the Nationalist government provide lower figures for the dead and injured, while supporters of Taiwan independence insist on higher numbers. One common estimate is 10,000 killed and 30,000 wounded.27 Apart from those who were killed, thousands of others were arrested and imprisoned in the ‘White Terror’ campaign, which took place during the following decade.28 Many of them continued to be imprisoned until the early This information can be found from a book written by the previous president of Taiwan, who himself, was educated in Japan in his youth. Lee, Teng-Hui. Selected Addresses and Messages: 1988. Taipei: Government Information Office, 1989, pp 33-34.

For full details see Kerr, op cit, pp 291-310.

Philips, Steven. ‘Between Assimilation and Independence: Taiwanese Political Aspirations under Nationalist Chinese Rule, 1945-1948’ in Rubinstein (ed), op cit, pp 295-296.

In 1955, the National Security Bureau was established, which coordinated all security agencies including the KMT, the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of the Interior, Taiwan Garrison Command, the military police and the local police.

The Bureau aimed to exterminate all Communist agents and influence in Taiwan, resulting in the fact that Taiwan’s government arrested, imprisoned and executed thousands on insufficient or circumstantial evidence. The 1950s and the 1960s are therefore known as the period of ‘White Terror’. Taiwanese people dared not to criticise the government and make any comments on public issues. More details can be found in Wang, Peter Chen-Main, ‘A Bastion Created, a Regime Reformed, an Economy Reengineered, 1940-1970’ in Rubinstein (ed), op cit, p 330.

M. Turner, © 2008 1980s. Shortly after the Incident took place, martial law was announced by Chiang Kai-Shek on 19 May 1949 and Taiwan went on to experience thirty nine years military control until 1987. This period of ‘White Terror,’ was a time during which no discussion of political and public issues was allowed.

Narratives of the Incident remained locked in private spaces, especially within those who physically experienced the tragedy. The younger generation remained unaware of this massacre until recent decades when Taiwan’s government started to establish public memorials for this tragedy and to add this history to school books.

[I]t [Taiwan] is imagined as a community, because, regardless of the actual inequality and exploitation that may prevail in each, the nation is always conceived as a deep, horizontal comradeship. Ultimately it is this fraternity that makes it possible, over the past two centuries, for so many millions of people, not so much to kill, as willingly to die for such limited imaginings.29 As is clear from this extract from Imagined Communities (1983), Benedict Anderson argues how people have been willing to sacrifice themselves in order to keep their ‘imagined community’. The Taiwanese, who fought against the Chinese Nationalists and were then killed or jailed due to the Incident, were struggling to keep their ‘imagined community’, which was different from that of the Mainlanders. The Taiwanese dreamed of an imagined sovereignty for their conceptual territory and nation state, and it was this which was invaded by the Nationalist forces once the Incident had started.

As a result, therefore, the Taiwanese people’s fury was aroused and they began to take risks to challenge the Chinese Nationalist authority in order to Anderson, op cit, p 7.

M. Turner, © 2008 protect their conceptual community.

Whilst under severe political control during martial law under the Chinese Nationalists, the Taiwanese maintained a separate identity as Taiwanese, even though this identity continued to be viewed as ‘inferior’ by the Mainlanders.30 The ‘imagined community’ does not lie in geographical territories but in the roots of culture, history and people’s minds. It is this belief that motivated the

2.28 Commemorative Exhibition to be curated, some fifty years after the Incident and after thirty-nine years of military law. The Taiwanese have consciously used an art exhibition to memorialise their unforgettable history and trauma.

The 228 Incident remained a taboo subject on the island until approximately fifteen years ago. The KMT authorities did not want to be reminded of their dark past and the Taiwanese did not dare to speak out for fear of retribution by the KMT’s secret police. Therefore, Taiwanese lived within their own imagined world where they found a psychological shelter away from the Chinese Nationalist’s political suppression, during which time, Sinocisation was applied to the island. The massacre was the beginning of thirty-nine years of repressive martial law on the island, during which time the KMT ruled Taiwan with an ‘iron fist’ as Chiang subjugated the island for his own





During an interview with Alan Wachman, Taiwanese writer, Chiang Chun-Nan, stated that:

Under KMT indoctrination […] we not only don’t know much about Taiwan […] we learn[ed] to despise Taiwaneseness, Taiwanese language. They said Taiwan has no language, no culture. Taiwanese history started from the day the KMT arrived in Taiwan.

Taiwan has no purpose in itself. The purpose of Taiwan is to be a stepping-stone to go back to China. […] So, we [Taiwanese] feel humiliated […] downgraded […] We have no hope because we are too small.

Wachman has therefore argued the fact that under martial law, the Taiwanese were considered with ‘hostility’, ‘suspicion’ or ‘indifference’ by the Mainlanders. Wachman, op cit, p 111.

M. Turner, © 2008 purposes.31 Under martial law, a repressive authoritarian system dominated by the Mainlanders was established without regard for the wishes and sentiments of the island’s original inhabitants. The KMT exercised complete control over the island and they claimed that rebelling against the communists was a state

–  –  –

demonstrations and the right to petition were prohibited under Martial law, and the KMT censored the content of public speeches, teaching, pictures and all published materials. Religious and union activities were carefully monitored and limited; mail was examined and personal property was inspected. The Taiwanese were forced to accept this undemocratic type of government by means of unremitting coercion and repression. To implant Chinese impacts in Taiwan, the KMT practiced a strict policy, which enforced the rule that only Mandarin was to be used in official affairs, in schools, on radio and on television. Alan Wachman argues that having been forced by the Japanese to speak Japanese and by the KMT to speak Mandarin (which has, since then, been labelled as the ‘standard’ and ‘official’ language), the Taiwanese The term, ‘iron fist’, has often been used to describe Chiang’s control in Taiwan and I shall give an example by looking at June Yip’s words. She asserts that ‘[d]iscussions of these [political] periods in local history were considered taboo under the iron-fisted rule of the KMT […]’. Yip, op cit, p 87. To explain why the term is used to interpret Chiang’s political power, I need to discuss how Alan Wachman describes Chiang’s control over the island. He asserts that ‘The Constitution of the ROC was suspended and the island was ruled under emergency provisions that institutionalised a prolonged period of martial law. Dissent of any form was suppressed and opposition severely punished’. However, after the death of Chiang in 1975, his son, Chiang Ching-Kuo, with a ‘more moderate, less doctrinaire soul’ than his father, is considered with respect and appreciation by most of the Taiwanese. Wachman describes Chiang Ching-Kuo’s contribution to the island and states that ‘[u]nder his leadership, a range of programs was undertaken with the aim of invigorating the economy and the viability of the island itself. […] Toward the end of his life, Chiang Ching-Kuo oversaw the initiation of dramatic political reforms that gave rise to a process of democratisation’. Wachman, op cit, pp 7-8.

M. Turner, © 2008 ‘resented the imposition that restricted the use of their own mother tongue’.32 Furthermore, educational courses and school books were obliged to praise the virtues of Chiang Kai-Shek as well as his ‘valiant’ fight against the Chinese Communists. Nobody was allowed to enter the teaching profession, the civil service or the military unless they were members of the KMT.

On 14 July 1987, ROC President Chiang Ching-Kuo (1910-1988, a son of Chiang Kai-Shek) lifted martial law six months before his death and replaced it with a similar ‘National Security Act’, which was less harsh than the old martial law. However, it was not until 1991 that the state of emergency was ended with the announcement that ‘the period of mobilisation to resist communist aggression had passed’.33 It has been argued that even though the ROC was not a communist state, it had an authoritarian one-party regime, which was more ‘similar’ to the communist states that it claimed to oppose than the democratic states it intended to follow.34 Since martial law was suspended, family visits to Mainland China have been permitted; restrictions on newspapers and television programmes were removed in 1994; people of Taiwan can directly elect the National Assembly (since 1991), the governors of Taiwan and the mayors of Taipei and Kaohsiung cities (since 1994), as well as the president and vice president Wachman, op cit, p 108. To emphasise the policy that Japanese enforced the Taiwanese to speak Japanese during its colonisation, I shall cite some relevant text from Andrew Morris.

He states that ‘Chinese-language sections of newspapers were eliminated, Taiwanese public servants were ordered to speak only Japanese […] Japanese-speaking Taiwanese families became eligible for a 50 percent raise in salary’. Morris, op cit, p 17.

The period between 1948 and 1991 was also called Temporary Provisions Effective During the Period of Communist Rebellion. Wachman, op cit, p 105.

See Wachman, ibid., p 131.

M. Turner, © 2008 (since 1996).35 With the death of Chiang in January 1988, Vice President Lee Teng-Hui (1923-) became the first native Taiwanese president, when he was still the leader of the KMT. 36 Being described as ‘a dexterous political enemy-friend’ of the KMT, Lee had gradually changed the political climate in Taiwan’s ‘democratising’ and ‘nativising’ state power.37 Various official and unofficial research on the 228 Incident was later carried out.

In Rewriting Taiwanese National History (1993), Liao Ping-Hui asserts that at least two of the investigations of the Incident ‘have been commissioned by the President [Lee]’.38 The government’s involvement in the investigation of the 228 Incident indicates the fact that President Lee intended to dilute the hatred among different groups living on the island. On 28 February 1998, President Lee gave reporters his views of the Incident by stating that ‘[n]ot long after Nationalist China recovered Taiwan, a tragedy took place. Society must have tranquillity, and that Incident should be treated with sincere understanding’.39 This is the first time in Taiwan’s history that Taiwan’s President officially acknowledged the fact and the tragedy of the Incident. The change of political climate (from Chiang’s monopoly to the Taiwanese-born president, Lee Teng-hui) has at last made this massacre visible. In fact, before Lee declared his statement concerning the Incident, several articles and books on the Brown (2004), op cit, p 11.

The term ‘native’ here refers to Taiwanese inhabitants prior to the flow of political and military refugees from Mainland China around 1949. Therefore, ‘native’, used in this context, includes aboriginals, Minnans and Hakkas.

See Corcuff, Stéphane. ‘The Symbolic Dimension of Democratisation and the Transition of National Identity under Lee Teng-Hui’ in Corcuff (ed), op cit, p 73 and Wu, Rwei-Ren. ‘Toward a Pragmatic Nationalism’ in Corcuff (ed), ibid., p 200, respectively.

Liao, Ping-Hui. ‘Rewriting Taiwanese National History: The February 28 Incident as Spectacle’ in Public Culture, No 5, 1993, p 284.

See Lai, Tse-Han, Ramon H. Myers, and Wei Wou. A Tragic Beginning. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1991, p 1.

M. Turner, © 2008 tragedy had been published in Taiwan after 198740 and the production of the film, A City of Sadness (1989) [fig 11], directed by Hou Hsiao-Hsien, visualised the tragedy through the story of a Taiwanese family. This film won the Golden Lion in the 1989 Venice Film Festival, and this award has not only encouraged the Taiwanese to ‘bravely’ create artworks to expose their history but has also given the Taiwanese a creative view of declaring their identity in terms of politics, culture and nationalism through the means of art.41 As to fine arts exhibitions, it was not until the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) Chen Sheui-Bian was elected as the mayor of Taipei city in 1996 that the 2.28 Commemorative Exhibition became a curatorial show to be held at the FAMT. From 1996 to 1999, the 228 memorial exhibitions were held annually at the FAMT until the KMT’s Ma Ying-Jeou became the city mayor of Taipei in



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