Wu Feng’s downfall

Source: Taipei Times (9/10/17)
Taiwan in Time: The drastic downfall of Wu Feng
Revered for almost a century, the man who sacrificed himself to stop the Aboriginal practice of headhunting was removed from history textbooks in 1989, and slowly fading into obscurity
By Han Cheung  /  Staff Reporter

A painting of Wu Feng arriving on a white horse wearing red, per the legend, hangs on the walls of the Wu Feng Temple in Chiayi. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

For almost a century, Wu Feng (吳鳳) was known as a selfless, compassionate hero. Under both Japanese and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) rule, every child read in school about how Wu sacrificed himself to stop Aborigines from their “savage and backward headhunting practices.”

Here’s the gist of the story: Wu spent much time with the Tsou Aborigines in what is today Chiayi County, teaching them how to farm and make crafts. After trying to delay their headhunting ritual to no avail, Wu told them to decapitate a man in red clothes who would pass by the next day. They did so, only to find that the man was Wu himself. Shocked and deeply saddened, the Aborigines vowed to give up the practice forever. Continue reading

KMT pulls pro-unification plank from platform

Source: SCMP (8/21/17)
KMT pulls pro-unification plank from party platform
Taiwan’s opposition party withdraws backing for peace treaty talks with the mainland
By Lawrence Chung

New KMT leader Wu Den-yih faces an uphill battle ahead of next year’s local government elections. Photo: CNA

Taiwan’s opposition Kuomintang has pulled a pro-unification plank from the party’s platform, a move analysts say is certain to rile Beijing.

In a vote reportedly orchestrated by new KMT leader Wu Den-yih on Sunday, the party’s national congress approved removal of calls for a peace treaty with the mainland before eventual reunification, an idea introduced by Wu’s predecessor Hung Hsiu-chu. Continue reading

Le Moulin

Posted by Bert Scruggs <bms@uci.edu>
Source: Japan Times (8/9/17)
‘Le Moulin’ gives a voice to Taiwanese poets who wrote under Japan’s colonial rule
by Kaori Shoji

Documenting a different time: Filmmaker Huang Ya-li uses archival footage and interviews in his film ‘Le Moulin’ to tell the story of a group of Taiwanese poets who lived under Japanese rule in the lead-up to World War II.

The word “nisshiki” (Japanese style) can often be seen on storefront signs in Taiwan to indicate chic, high-end products. It’s a little similar to what we in Japan associate with luxury items from France, though “nisshiki” is a holdover from the days when Taiwan was under Japanese rule (1895-1945).

Documentary filmmaker Huang Ya-li tells me that Taiwan is currently in the throes of a “Japan nostalgia boom” that recalls the colonial days with a degree of fondness he doesn’t quite understand. Continue reading

Taiwan International Ethnographic Film Fest 2017

The 9th Taiwan International Ethnographic Film Festival 2017
October 6 – 10, 2017 in Taipei, Taiwan
TIEFF 2017 Lineup Announced!
2017 Lineup

TIEFFWe are pleased to announce the official selections for the 2017 Taiwan International Ethnographic Film Festival (TIEFF). TIEFF is Asia’s oldest and longest running international ethnographic film festival. Competition was especially tight this year, with over one thousand five hundred films (from one hundred and eleven countries) submitted to the festival.

The final list consists of just forty two films, the maximum number we could comfortably schedule with sufficient time left over for discussion. The selected films are incredibly diverse. Not only do they come from twenty different countries, but they deal with a wide range of issues, and represent a wide range of cinematic styles.

The main topic this year was “Beyond the Human” which explores the interconnections between humans, animals, technology, the environment, and the spirit-world. In addition to films on these topics, we also have films that explore death and dying, mental illness, social justice, travel, refugees, and indigenous cultures. Many of these films have never before been screened in Taiwan.

The full list of films is below. We hope you can join us this October 6th-10th in Taipei. Be sure to follow us on FacebookTwitter, or via our mailing list to get the latest updates about the festival.

Continue reading

Wu He’s Remains of Life

Once again we have a case of a reviewer failing to mention the name of the translator, or even seeing the book under review as a translation. By the way, the translator is Michael Berry.–Kirk

Source: SCMP (6/7/17)
James Joyce-like novel about Japanese genocide of Taiwan tribes is a tough read, but worth the effort
Award-winning Remains of Life, written without chapters or paragraphs, is a technically daunting account of a terrible event from Taiwan’s occupation that has taken 18 years to publish in English, and it’s not hard to see why
Mike Cormack

The cover of Wu He’s Remains Of Life. Columbia University Press

It’s taken 18 years for Wu He’s critically lauded Remains of Life to appear in English translation, and a glance at the text readily explains this delay.

This is an avowedly experi­mental novel that revolves around one dreadful event. On October 27, 1930, at a sports meeting at Musha Elementary School, on an aboriginal reservation in the mountains of Taiwan, a bloody uprising took place against the Japanese. By noon, the headhunting ritual had left 134 of the occupiers decapitated. The colonial power’s response was to mobilise a 3,000-strong militia, roll out the heavy artillery, put planes in the air and deploy poisonous gas in a ferocious act of genocide that saw the near extermination of the Seediq tribes.

The Musha Incident, as it came to be known, had been forgotten by many Taiwanese, but the book led to a resurgence in interest, and a new evaluation of its significance. Continue reading

Tsai Ing-wen embraces Twitter as megaphone

Source: NYT (7/6/17)
Muffled by China, Taiwan President Embraces Twitter as Megaphone
点击查看本文中文版<
By CHRIS HORTON

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Over the past year, China has doubled down on its campaign to reduce Taiwan’s presence on the world stage, whether by luring away its few remaining diplomatic allies — most recently Panama — or blocking its participation in international organizations like Interpol and the World Health Organization.

Now President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan is trying to tweet the island back into the global conversation. Continue reading

Project on Taiwan aborigines

Source: Taipei Times (6/21/17)
Spreading the message
A new project is set to boost the international profile of a Taipei museum and provide fresh material for students interested in Taiwan’s Aborigines
By Tony Phillips  /  Contributing reporter in London

Shung Ye museum posters at an exhibit in London in 2015. Photo courtesy of Niki Alsford

Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines (順益台灣原住民博物館) and London’s Centre of Taiwan Studies, part of the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), are to cooperate in a two-year research program that will give people in the UK a unique insight into Taiwan’s indigenous peoples. Continue reading

Chi Po-lin died pursuing his dreams

Source: Taipei Times (6/12/17)
Chi Po-lin died pursuing his dreams
By Christie Chen  /  CNA, with staff writer

Filmmaker Chi Po-lin records footage for the sequel to his documentary Beyond Beauty: Taiwan From Above in an undated photograph. Photo courtesy of Taiwan Aerial Imaging

Filmmaker Chi Po-lin (齊柏林) gave up many things to pursue his dream of documenting Taiwan through aerial photography.

He mortgaged his house, borrowed money from friends and quit his job as a civil servant at the age of 47 — just three years before qualifying for a lifetime pension — all to make his 2013 documentary Beyond Beauty: Taiwan From Above (看見台灣), which became the highest-grossing documentary in Taiwanese history.

On June 10, the acclaimed director lost his life at the age of 52 while doing what he loved most — shooting images of his homeland from a helicopter. Continue reading

KMT sinicization

Source: Taipei Times (6/11/17)
Taiwan in time: Curing a ‘deeply poisoned’ populace
The KMT sought to eradicate almost a decade of Japanization in Taiwan by instilling aggressive sinicization policies immediately after World War II
By Han Cheung  /  Staff reporter

Taiwanese schoolchildren are gathered for the visit of then-Japanese crown prince Hirohito in 1923. The KMT sought to eradicate all traces of Japanese influence after its arrival in 1945. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

June 12 to June 18

In November 1945, an article appeared in the Shin Sheng Pao (新生報) newspaper written by then-Taipei Mayor Yu Mi-chien (游彌堅) that denounced Japanese culture with rhetoric that aligned with the newly-arrived Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) goal of promoting the use of Mandarin and adoption of Chinese culture.

Note that nuhua (奴化, literally enslavement) was commonly used by the KMT back then to refer to the Japanization of the Taiwanese people, which they hoped to reverse as quickly as possible. Continue reading

Taiwan ruling widens political divide with China

Source: Bloomberg News (5/25/17)
Taiwan Gay Marriage Ruling Widens Political Divide With China
By Ting Shi and Chinmei Sung

  • Landmark change faces higher hurdles under one-party rule
  • ‘It’s the system. This is a problem stemming from the system’

Same-sex activists hug outside the parliament in Taipei on May 24, as they celebrate the landmark decision paving the way for the island to become the first place in Asia to legalize gay marriage.Photographer: Sam Yeh/AFP via Getty Images

Taiwan’s historic court ruling this week did more than make it the first place in Asia to let same-sex couples wed: It also widened the political gap with China.

The decision by Taiwan’s constitutional court Wednesday to legalize gay marriage in two years — if lawmakers don’t do so first — underscored the differences between the democratic island and one-party China, which wants to unify the two sides. The Communist Party controls all branches of government and faces little public pressure to allow same-sex marriage. Continue reading

Five LGBT-themed movies from Taiwan

Source: SCMP (5/24/17)
Five great LGBT-themed movies from Taiwan, model of openness in Asia
In the week that Taiwan’s highest court made history by approving same-sex marriage, we look back at five films with lesbian, gay or bisexual themes
By Edmund Lee

(From left) Joseph Chang, Bryant Chang and Kate Yeung in Eternal Summer.

Taiwan’s top court made history this week by ruling in favour of same-sex marriage – the first Asian territory to do so. Taiwanese society has long been at ease with alternative sexuality, as reflected by these five great LGBT-themed films by Taiwanese directors.

The Wedding Banquet (1993)

Long before his modern classic Brokeback Mountain, Taiwanese-American filmmaker Ang Lee made his international breakthrough with this enthralling family dramedy, about a New York-based gay man who stages a sham marriage in order to please his conservative Chinese parents. Continue reading

Professional peasant revolutionary in Taiwan

Source: Taipei Times (5/14/17)
Taiwan in Time: ‘Professional peasant revolutionary’
Chien Chi left his job as a schoolteacher and devoted his life to fighting for peasant’s rights, later also becoming involved in communism
By Han Cheung  /  Staff Reporter

A portrait of Chien Chi, who spent most of his adult life fighting for peasant’s rights. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

He was born exactly 85 years before farmers traveled to Taipei on May 20, 1988 to participate in what is considered Taiwan’s largest peasant movement since World War II. It’s probably a coincidence that they marched on his birthday, but Chien Chi (簡吉) was a notable peasants’ rights organizer during the Japanese colonial era, also leading a group of farmers to Taipei in 1926 to protest the government’s agricultural policy.

SEEDS OF DISCONTENT

Chien grew up in a farming family in what is today’s Fengshan District (鳳山) in Kaohsiung. He recalls that his parents had to “work like cows and horses,” and that his younger brother had to quit school to help in the fields. Chien was lucky enough to graduate from Tainan Normal School (台南師範學校) and became a local schoolteacher. Continue reading

National Chengchi University position

Faculty Positions Available

The Graduate Institute of Taiwanese Literature, National Chengchi University, invites applications for one teaching position.

  1. Positions available: One.
  2. The successful applicant will be expected to begin employment on February 1, 2018.

  3. Applicants should meet either of the qualifications: (1) as a holder of a Ph.D. degree, (2) as an assistant professor or a more advanced scholar.

  4. Specializations: Fields related to Taiwanese Literature.

  5. Required Application Documents (for checklist, please see attachment 2) Continue reading

Small Talk

Source: Taipei Times (4/20/17)
Movie review: Small Talk
After a lifetime of silence, making this documentary was Huang Hui-chen’s only means of connecting with her lesbian mother — and she takes the audience along on her arduous and deeply personal journey
By Han Cheung  /  Staff Reporter

Movie poster for Small Talk. Photo courtesy of Mirror Stage Films

As its title suggests, Small Talk (日常對話) is driven by conversation, specifically director Huang Hui-chen’s (黃惠偵) efforts to get her lesbian mother, A-nu (阿女), to open up about her past. She also speaks with other relatives and A-nu’s former lovers, asking very direct questions that clearly make some of them uncomfortable.

But what makes the film compelling is the lack of small talk. Huang reveals that even though they live under the same roof, she and her mother barely interact. A-nu cooks lunch and leaves for the day to hang out with her friends, and in one scene doesn’t even acknowledge Huang when she returns home.

With a painful past involving an arranged marriage with an abusive man, A-nu prefers to keep everything to herself. Huang admits in the film that she wouldn’t know how to approach the subject if she hadn’t picked up the camera, and through her lens she attempts to understand A-nu and release them both from the shackles of the past. Continue reading