The Indigenization of Taiwanese Literature: Historical Narrative, Strategic Essentialism, and State Violence

  • A-chin Hsiau


“Indigenization” (bentuhua 本土化)—a generalized notion that the uniqueness of Taiwanese society/culture/history must be appreciated and interpreted from the viewpoint of the Taiwanese people per se— has been a powerful paradigm directing and informing discourse on Taiwanese literature and history since the 1980s in Taiwan, or the Republic of China (ROC). The development of the paradigm over the past two decades is closely related to Taiwan’s identity politics of ethnicity and nationalism. As a significant element in national identity conflicts, the debates provoked by the paradigm have been violent in the two fields of literature and history. (The paradigm started within fields of knowledge and cultural production other than literature and history in the late 1970s when “back to xiangtu” [huigui xiangtu 回櫃鄕土]1 became a prevailing canon of knowledge construction and cultural production.) Debate surrounding bentuhua in other fields, however, has been much less heated than in literature and history and, moreover, has had little connection with the identity politics of ethnicity and nationalism.


Chinese Literature Historical Narrative Literary Discourse Japanese Colonialism Taiwanese People 
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© John Makeham and A-chin Hsiau 2005

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  • A-chin Hsiau

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