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Date 2021-03-18


Demarcation and Positioning: Representing Republic of China through Postwar Taiwanese Fiction


Fan, Ming-Ju

Distinguished Professor, Graduate Institute of Taiwanese Literature, National Chengchi University


Space narrative is an important tool to shape the imagined community. Under the ideology of great continent, the geographical axis of the early postwar fiction usually tilts toward mainland China, no matter where the story occurred. The government’s cultural policies intentionally encourage and guide writers to write about Kinmen-Matsu and Penghu so as to create a border war zone image to emphasize the political borderline in reality. The underlying purpose behind these actions was to build a new identity and shape national consciousness of the newly formed territory of Republic of China for its people. Opposite to outlying island writing, government’s cultural policies are comparatively in less favor of those works about Taiwan, the main Island. The image of the main island usually is portrait as a modernized, wealthy, fully built space that proves the righteousness of the government’s administrative policies in order to consolidate the so-called “role model”, picturing it as the springboard of strike back and positioning it as the base of counterattack. To echo the official space narrative, mainlander writers, who just moved in Taiwan not very, are unfamiliar with the geographical location, the overall environment as well as the history and cultures of the natives, they inevitably make use of a massive amount of space symbols, especially political landscape, landmarks and even slogans to cover up the difficulty of writing about realism. Although a few texts already express some extend of reality, how mainlanders have gradually, slowly build up their social networks and how through the interactions between communities and groups, they have developed the sense of space. As a result, a sense of understanding and intimacy to Taiwan’s landscapes and culture was formed. It’s a pity that this local dream state scenario can only exist in the imaginary world within the text itself as the new comers would not dare to surpass the space narrative of government’s greater perimeter - nationalism and heroism.

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Bulletin of Taiwanese Literature