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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/19095

Title: The Return of the Vanishing Formosan
Authors: Sterk, Darryl Cameron
Advisor: Liu, Johanna Chien-mei
Department: East Asian Studies
Keywords: settler society
national allegory
Taiwanese literature
aboriginal domestication
Issue Date: 23-Feb-2010
Abstract: Stories about aborigines in a settler society, especially stories about aboriginal maidens and settler men, tend to become national allegories. Initially, the aboriginal maiden is a figure for colonial landscapes and resources, while later, in her conversion in fact or fiction from aboriginal to settler, she helps build national identity. Yet after being romanced, the aboriginal maiden’s fate is to disappear from settler consciousness, because she is displaced by the national settler mother or because the settler loses interest in her, only to return in abjection to haunt the settler conscience. In her return as a prostitute, a commodified bride or a ghost, she disturbs the discourse of ‘national domestication’, the notion of nation as family. Though she returns in abjection, an Amazonian association tends to linger in the person of the aboriginal maiden, an association that suggests the kind of self-empowerment on which a healthy liberal society depends. In other words, the figure of the aboriginal maiden tends to be used in the construction, the contestation, and potentially the reconstruction of national identity in a settler society. While I discuss examples from settler societies around the world, particularly the story of Pocahontas, and try to contribute to ‘settler colonial discourse studies’, I focus on postwar Taiwan. This dissertation proposes the notions of the ‘settler society’ and the Habermasian public sphere as ‘frames’ for the study of Taiwanese literature. I show how the Formosan aboriginal maiden has been appropriated for the construction and critique of both Chinese and Taiwanese nationalisms. I argue that while nationalism is partly about social control and the advancement of particular interests, writers who have romanced the Formosan aborigine have been implicitly participating in a debate about national domestication, the telos of which is the democratic imagination of a good society, one in which the Formosan aborigines will feel in some sense ‘at home’, though perhaps not as members of the ‘national family’. Finally, under the rubric of ‘alternative aboriginal modernities’, I discuss stories that reread the romance of the Formosan aborigine by aboriginal writers who have entered the national debate.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/19095
Appears in Collections:Doctoral
Department of East Asian Studies - Doctoral theses

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