This article revolves around the contemporary Taiwanese writer Wuhe and the Taiwanese melodic black-metal band ChthoniC (Shanling) and their “political” use of the Wushe Incident that occurred in 1930 in colonial Taiwan. The event, which was brutally repressed by the Japanese authorities immediately thereafter and, in many ways, lent impetus to the kominka (assimilationist) movement, has been represented and interpreted in numerous ways, shapes, and forms over the course of the last seventy plus years. Notably, during the postwar period, it was often interpreted as an anticolonial/anti-Japanese movement. More recently, however, the novelist Wuhe has highlighted its ambiguous nature in his award-winning novel The Remains of Life (Yusheng, 2000). For Wuhe, the incident is an entangled web of conflicting impulses: a violent confluence between modern politics and traditional culture(s). Conversely, the band ChthoniC has used the Wushe Incident to push an overtly political position, that of an independent Taiwan, in their fourth studio album Seediq bale (Chinese: Saideke balai, 2005). The fact that a melodic black-metal band has appropriated this event to convey a political stance is in itself intriguing, since their chosen genre of expression is generally viewed in Europe and the United States as being inherently apolitical. Coupled with the fact that it is a musical genre without the same kind of mass public appeal as Mando-pop or Canto-pop makes one ask not only why this band chose melodic black metal (an offshoot of death metal) but also why it is attempting to articulate a political position through such means. Reading Wuhe's more nuanced account on the incident with ChthoniC's use of it highlights the tension between history, memory, and its political usages and implications in contemporary Taiwanese society and helps to articulate a means to better understand a conflicted history and its national/nationalized memory.
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Christopher Payne; Wushe, Literature, and Melodic Black Metal: The “Nonpolitics” Of Wuhe and the “Political” ChthoniC. positions 1 May 2014; 22 (2): 403–428. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10679847-2413844
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