This article extends debates on the place of Taiwan on our scholarly canvas by highlighting the region's unique status at the intersections of various margins—geopolitical, sociocultural, and historiographical. Using press reports of renyao (“human prodigy,” a Chinese category of transgenderism) in the post–World War II period as the foci of analysis, this article supersedes existing readings that tend to emphasize the lifting of martial law in 1987 as the turning point that enabled the flourishing of queer cultures and politics in late-capitalist Taiwan. The media attention showered on Zeng Qiuhuang, arguably the most famous renyao in the 1950s, reveals and captures a reciprocal chimera effect whereby the margins of sexuality and the periphery of “China” and “Chineseness” converge into the mimetic recalcitrant traces of the past. The prodigy of the human—renyao—configures the basis of archival imagination on which the prodigy of historical na(rra)tion—Taiwan—emerges with distinctive tempos and visibility from the seemingly authentic repertoire of empirical retrieval, recovery, and access.
Howard Chiang; Archiving Peripheral Taiwan: The Prodigy of the Human and Historical Narration. Radical History Review 1 October 2014; 2014 (120): 204–225. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01636545-2704110
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