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Date 2021-03-17


Colonial Modernity and the Empire of Love: The Representation of Same-Sex Love in Colonial Taiwan and Korea


Chen, Pei-Jean

PhD Candidate, Department of Asian Studies, Cornell University


This paper seeks to examine the knowledge production of free love and sexuality in colonial Taiwan and Korea, with specific focus on how the normative ideas about same-sex love were created, transformed, and translated into local cultural practices in an effort to "modernize" the individuals under the Japanese rule. Due to the need of mobilization of national/colonial subjects, the discovery of the individual as a modern identity in the early twentieth century East Asia brought about the outer expression of human desires, which had been restricted under the system of Confucian rites. Especially, the liberation of sex was the most conspicuous affair and one crucial indication of modernity during the colonial time. The emerged sexual discourses during the 1920s and 1930s produced a great variety of sexual subjects, through highly diversified debates on masturbation, venereal disease, birth control, and prostitution in publishing industry. Built upon this social condition, this paper traces the specific cultural debates and literary practices that represented the same-sex love events in public media, with special focus on Taiwan Nichinichi Shimpo and Taiwan Min Bao published in colonial Taiwan and Dong-A Ilbo, New Women and Pyŏlkŏn’gon magazine published in colonial Korea, to show how the writings and columns encompassed sexual issues by local intellectuals demonstrate the specificity of interior modernization and addresses complex issues of modernity.

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Bulletin of Taiwanese Literature