The contributors to this special issue examine the role successive colonialisms played in forging a distinct Taiwanese identity and the theoretical implications the Taiwanese experience of colonialism raises regarding the making of modern national identities. In addition to its indigenous culture, a long succession of colonial rulers—variously the Netherlands, Spain, the kingdom of Tungning, the Ming and Qing dynasties, Japan, and Kuomintang China—has forged a distinctive Taiwanese national identity. The Taiwan case suggests that it is misleading to approach colonialism as an obstacle to national identity without also accounting for the ways in which colonialism has historically factored into the constitution of national identities. The contributors address the ways in which the colonizer’s culture transformed the colonized, setting them in new historical directions, even if those directions were not what the colonizers expected.
Read the introduction, freely available.
Looking for further reading on Taiwan? Consider Envisioning Taiwan by June Yip, which sorts through the complexities of globalization and Taiwan’s history of colonization, weaving together history and cultural analysis to provide a picture of Taiwanese identity and a lesson on the usefulness and the limits of contemporary cultural theory. Another great choice is Writing Taiwan, edited by David Der-wei Wang and Carlos Rojas, the first volume in English to examine the entire span of modern Taiwan literature—from the first decades of the twentieth century to the present.