Taiwanese Aboriginal Literature since the mid-1980s: Discourse, History, and Identity

Shu-hwa Wu (2009). Taiwanese Aboriginal Literature since the mid-1980s: Discourse, History, and Identity PhD Thesis, School of Languages and Comp Cultural Studies, The University of Queensland.

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Author Shu-hwa Wu
Thesis Title Taiwanese Aboriginal Literature since the mid-1980s: Discourse, History, and Identity
School, Centre or Institute School of Languages and Comp Cultural Studies
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2009-04
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Dr Rosemary Roberts
Dr Guy Ramsay
Prof Ian Lilley
Total pages 307
Total black and white pages 307
Subjects 20 Language, Communication and Culture
Abstract/Summary In this thesis, Taiwanese Aboriginal Literature from the mid 1980s is the focus of discussion. The material I will cover includes literature in the genre of poetry, prose, fiction and song lyrics. I situate my thesis in the field of literary and cultural studies based on contemporary aboriginal writing. Application of postcolonial-colonial discourse, such as diaspora and articulation, explicates the close relationship between the socio-political context and Taiwanese Aboriginal Literature, in particular, the process of re-construction of aboriginal identity. My thesis develops from the following hypothesis: firstly, the concerns expressed in aboriginal writing are closely tied to social and cultural issues, such as the disruption, or construction of aboriginal heritages, under or after the rule of colonial governments. Secondly, as a result of broader changes in Taiwanese society, writers’ focus and strategies change with their specific social environments. To compare the shared and different characteristics of aboriginal writing and to summarize its development, I examine two periods of Aboriginal Literature and relate them to the internal and external factors pertinent to the writing. Chapter Two and Three contain textual analysis of Aboriginal Literature. Chapter Two “The Pre-Shanhai Period” introduces literature by Walis, Hu Defu, Monaneng, Tien Yage and Wenchi. These are works closely related to aboriginal political movements and deal with the disruption of indigenous communities. Chapter Three “The Shanhai Period” discusses Taiwanese Aboriginal Literature of the Shanhai Period through the works of Auvini, Lanpoan, and Vava. The findings illustrate the validity of the above hypothesis through discussion on the relationship between theme and period, change of writing position as a result of the social contexts of the time when the writer wrote, and strategies aboriginal authors deploy to reconstruct aboriginal identity. The two periods of literature show changes in aboriginal writers’ speaking positions, that is, as pan-aboriginal speakers, or as tribal speakers, or as individuals. In its first stage of development, Taiwanese Aboriginal Literature was a discourse about survival and about appealing for justice. Writers wrote to make sense of the world in which they live. In writing they asked questions pertinent to their identity: first, “What does it mean to be born as a Taiwanese Aboriginal, or as one of the Bunun people, or the Atayal people? Writers wrote mainly to counter the perspectives imposed by the colonizers, and to pass on indigenous knowledge. In the second stage of development, Aboriginal Literature reached a period of negotiation and border crossing between indigenous culture and colonial cultures. At this stage, many writers asked: “What does my traditional culture mean to me in modern society?” Out of speculation on cultural differences, they wrote to know themselves so as to position themselves in a challenging modern, globalized society. Through this process aboriginal writers attempted to build up aboriginal subjectivity in Taiwanese literature. This study demonstrates that the writing position and strategy of identity construction in Taiwanese Aboriginal Literature shows a development from a literature of resistance to a literature of cultural building and self-examination. It is from the Shanhai period onwards that Taiwanese Aboriginal Literature gradually seeks and forms a literary norm. The literature under study manifests diverse expressions of identity. The writing process further demonstrates a dialogue of aboriginal writers with mainstream society, a constant diasporic process of generating new indigenous subjectivity. As such, the study brings an understanding of Taiwanese Aboriginal Literature to Western readers and scholars to facilitate future studies in this field.
Keyword Taiwanese Aboriginal Literature
Taiwanese aboriginal writers
aboriginal identity
Taiwanese Literature

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Created: Sat, 27 Mar 2010, 17:14:58 EST by Mrs Shu-hwa Wu on behalf of Library - Information Access Service