This article explores a recent stage of the national project in Taiwan as reflected in comic books. It compares historical comics and graphic memoirs as lieux de mémoire (according to Pierre Nora) and as stories that define Taiwan, situated between the historical apparatus and cultural memory (in Marita Sturken’s terms). It argues that the memoirs’ higher potential appeal is based on their relevance to contemporary concerns, on building links between the wu nianji 五年級 (fifth-grader) generation and present-day youth, and on depicting history as recoverable through elements of everyday life. The article also highlights borrowings from existing discourses of national history in the analyzed memoirs and their new contributions thereto: a focus on the postwar period; a strong generational consciousness; an idea of historical continuity as embodied in present everyday life; a nonantagonistic approach to national history that transcends ethnic and political divides and positions Taiwan in the midst of global flows; and a nonelite view of Taiwan’s most recent history grounded in popular culture.
National History and Generational Memory: Taiwanese Comic Books as Lieux de Mémoire
Adina Zemanek holds a PhD in cultural anthropology from the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, and she currently works as a lecturer in Asia-Pacific studies at the University of Central Lancashire. She also is a board member of the European Association of Tai-wan Studies. Her previous projects looked at gender issues in PRC fashion magazines and TV series, and her current research focus has shifted toward Taiwan — the construction of national identity and grassroots nation branding through tourist souvenirs, graphic novels, and picture books. Her recent articles were published in Archiv Orientální, China Perspectives, and Culture, Theory, and Critique.
Adina Zemanek; National History and Generational Memory: Taiwanese Comic Books as Lieux de Mémoire. positions 1 May 2020; 28 (2): 389–420. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10679847-8112489
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