Since the 1949 great divide between the Republic of China and the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan has been under pressure to seek recovery from or reunification with China. Now, with the rise of China as a global superpower and the redeployment of a trans-Pacific military, as well as diplomatic strategies on the part of the United States, the discourse of affective affinity and national unity across the Taiwan Strait is becoming forcefully attractive, often advocated in the figure of brotherhood, shared interests, or even intimacy. This essay argues that the relationship between Taiwan and China is unlike that of fraternity brothers or a gay marriage; it remains separated by the Strait (or straight sexuality and heterogeneity). No way (at least not yet) could we entertain the hope of building such an affective community, even though we do have quite a few literary texts constructing climaxes around affective affinities across the Strait, first in tropes of embracing an imaginary homeland, of longing to be united; then, in the figure of “Mainland sisters” (dalumei) or “little Mistress No. 3” (xiaosan) as erotic (albeit illicit and manipulative) objects for nonreproductive copulation; and, more recently, as rich and powerful big brothers from China who are both seductive and fatal. This essay proposes to examine several narrative accounts and discuss their psychosocial implications.
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August 1, 2018
Ping-hui Liao; Dangerous Liaisons and the Sexual Politics of Brotherhood: Strait Talk on Affective Communities. boundary 2 1 August 2018; 45 (3): 45–59. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01903659-6915569
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