This essay examines the current state of Taiwanese culture through the project of restoration of history, focusing on a corpus of literary works that represent Taiwan's 2/28 Incident and its aftermath, the White Terror. Post-martial law Taiwan witnessed the birthing of a new nation with burgeoning writings of a new historiography, particularly in the literary field. Writers have re-created scenes and the effects of atrocity in order to fill in the gaps in history as a new Taiwan is being written into existence. In this body of literature, women as victims have clearly been considered the most powerful trope to convey a sense of injustice. By situating my analysis in the larger context of third-world women and their changing roles vis-à-vis tradition during national crises, I argue that the definition of victimhood is, in fact, never readily transparent, and hence equivocal portrayals of women as victims not only constitute a sign of an evolving understanding of Taiwanese history but become a crucial narrative device that helps to avoid the pitfall of trivialization.
Sylvia Li-chun Lin; Engendering Victimhood: Women in Literature of Atrocity. positions 1 May 2009; 17 (2): 411–434. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10679847-2009-008
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