Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Comparison to Taiwan's Nationalistic History

I'm interested in postcolonial histories of Taiwan and Korea, and the question that Diana posed a while ago is a big theme to me, too. I put some speculations as a comment to her entry, but I think this article on Taiwan's history shows how differently they regard the memory of the Japanese occupation to serve the goals of their nationalist histories: Describing Taiwan's real history.

Since the goal is to separate Taiwan's history from China, the article emphasizes that Taiwan was occasionally ruled by foreign powers, of which China is just one; "Japan occupied" is an incorrect expression that might give an impression that Taiwan always belonged to China. (e.g. "Taiwan has never been a part of China except for 1945 to 1949 during the Chinese Civil War when the Chinese colonial regime occupied Taiwan and slaughtered many Taiwanese... The new textbooks correctly say that during the Japanese colonial period Taiwan was "Japan-governed" rather than "Japan-occupied.'") The new textbooks apparently play down the Rape of Nanjing, too (Taiwan textbooks downplay Japan massacre)


Grace said...

I found your post interesting because we talked about this topic in another class. Dr. Shambaugh mentioned the Treaty of Shimonoseki of 1895 and how Taiwan did not even legally "belong" to China, and the problem that few textbooks in Taiwan truly teach Taiwanese, or Formosan, history. Does anyone know if Taiwan is beginning to teach a "Taiwanese History" class in its schools or at least requiring it for its students?

In Hawaii, for example, in addition to US history classes we were required to take Polynesian/Hawaiian history and culture classes throughout our primary education. It was deemed important to have the students know about the native history of Hawaii. These classes were usually taught by native Hawaiians and needless to say, their view of America was sure to spice class discussions!

diana said...

Validity of the argument in the article depends on, to me, how to define "China." Some assertions by the author demand more consideration, such as "the Manchu empire was Manchu and not Chinese." Were Manchus Chinese? After 1911 Revolution, even Dr. Sun Yet-sen would say "yes."

Sayaka said...

Hehe. Validity is one issue but it is probably more interesting to see what the author is trying to do in this article; just like our readings of/about the nationalist historians in Korea.

diana said...

It's nothing new here that history has always been used for political gains. Historian Paul Cohen points out that there are three keys to history: the past reconstructed, the past experienced, and the past mythologized.

Sayaka, the article you posted and the class readings, they are all about history-writing --"different ways in which the past may be configured or shaped, each operating according to principles and imparting a very different inflection to tone" (_History In Three Keys_)But at the end, it is the content matters -- that's the validity issue.

Sayaka said...

Maybe I'm too cynical about that. In the Korean history's context, for example, even if all the nationalistic interpretations of Tangun stories were valid-- it would not increase/decrease the legitimacy of Korean nationalism from my perspective. In Taiwan's case, it does not really matter to me whether their claims are valid or not-- it does not affect whether they should be independent or they have all the rights to be nationalistic.