Asian Studies Conference Japan

Saturday, June 19 - Sunday 20, 2004
Ichigaya Campus of Sophia University

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 Contact the organizers: Asian Studies Conference (ASCJ) c/o Institute of Asian Cultural Studies, International Christian University 3-10-2 Osawa, Mitaka-shi, Tokyo 181

Session 15: Room 307

Hybrid Constructions of Colonial Taiwan (1895-1945)

Organizer: Robert Tierney, Stanford University

"Ceded" to Japan by the Qing dynasty in 1895, Taiwan was Japan's first colony and thus served as the laboratory where, in the words of Nitobe Inazo, Japan "learned the art of colonization." To build a system of colonial rule, Japanese colonial authorities made the most of existing fissures of Taiwanese society, notably that between "migrants" from the mainland and non-Chinese aborigines. The presenters on this panel will look at literary and dramatic works by Japanese writers over the half-century of colonization to explore changes in representations of the complex social formations in Taiwan and to chart transformations in colonial discourses on Taiwan. Analysis of literary texts will also highlight the multifaceted ways in which colonial discourses of assimilation and civilization intersect with discourses of race, gender and national identity. In an analysis of Emi Suiin's Osero, a transposition of Shakespeare's Othello to 1903 Taiwan, Yukari Yoshihara will show how this writer appropriates a canonical work of western literature to legitimize Japanese imperialism. Robert Tierney will look at adaptations of western narratives of the "noble savage" in Ôshika Taku's 1931 "Tattaka Doubutsuen" (Tattaka Zoo), a work set during the period of pacification of aboriginal highlands. Peichen Wu will discuss the creolization of the legend of Sayon, a self-sacrificing aboriginal woman, in the writings of Masugi Shizue. In an examination of Shoji Soichi's award-winning novel, Chin fujin, Kimberly Kono will explore the intersection of colonial ideology and constructions of gender in Shoji's novel of the colonial family.

1) Robert Tierney, Stanford University
The Myth of the Noble Savage in Ooshika Taku's Tattaka Doubutsuen

From 1902, the Japanese colonial government adopted military tactics first tested by the British in Tasmania to exterminate aborigines who refused to submit to their authority. While the year 1915 marks the conclusion of these campaigns, periodic uprisings by aboriginals against the Japanese continued to punctuate the period of colonial rule, culminating in the Musha uprising of 1930 in which an alliance of Ayatal tribes massacred 134 Japanese. After the aborigines were militarily vanquished, a few writers began to appropriate the western trope of the " noble savage" and to adapt it in literary depictions of the aborigines. Generally, these writers portray the indigenous peoples in a romantic light and identify empathetically with their fate as a "vanishing race." The writer most associated with this mood of imperial romanticism is Ôshika Taku, who wrote a series of stories set in the Taiwan aboriginal areas during 1930's. In this presentation, I will focus on Ôshika's earliest work, "Tattaka Doubutsuen" (Tattaka Zoo), which is a story about a mountain cat caged in a small zoo kept by Japanese guardsmen on the aboriginal frontier. If the zoo in this story serves as a trope for representing the geography of Japanese rule of the highlands, the mountain cat is an allegorical figure representing the aboriginal people themselves. Torn between empathetic identification and envy of the captive animal, the protagonist embodies the inherent contradictions of feeling nostalgia for a culture that he himself is engaged in destroying.

2) Peichen Wu, Tsukuba University
The Creolized "Sayon’s Bell": Masugi Shizue’s "The Valley of Riyon Hayon" and "The Message"

In September 1938, while Takita, a Japanese policeman, was making his way down the mountain from the aboriginal county of Riyohen, a girl from the Taiyal tribe named Sayon, who was carrying his belongings, fell into a mountain stream and disappeared. In April 1941, the governor-general Hasegawa Kiyoshi in Taipei presented the county with a bell inscribed to "the patriotic girl Sayon." Afterwards, various versions of the legend of Sayon's Bell were circulated in novel, film, and play. The popularity of the story undoubtedly owes much to its use in propaganda extolling the volunteer army system established in Taiwan as a result of the expansion of the Sino-Japanese war from July 1938. Masugi Shizue, who lived in Taiwan from the ages of three to 21, is one of the few Japanese female writers to experience life in the Japanese colony. She wrote two stories that refer to the Sayon Bell legend in 1941:
"The Valley of Riyon Hayon" (Riyon Hayon no Tanigawa) and "Message" (Kotoduke). Both works have been viewed as part of the propaganda in favor of the volunteer army system. Yet the protagonists of these stories are young men from Japan (naichi seinen) exiled to Taiwan's aboriginal areas and devoted to the education of the aborigines. By analyzing Masugi's "The Valley of Riyon Hayo" and "Message," I will show how she uses the Sayon Bell legend to transform Taiwan's aboriginal areas into a paradise for young men from Japan.

3) Kim Kono, Smith College
Colonizing the Family in Shoji Soichi's Chin fujin

In his novel Mrs. Chin (Chin fujin, 1940-1942), Shôji Sôchi portrays the lives of multiple generations of a Taiwanese-Japanese family in colonial Taiwan. This work, which was a runner up for the first Greater East Asia Literary Prize in 1943, resituates the colonial enterprise within the confines of the family and depicts Japanese empire as both familial and familiar. By using family as an allegory for the colonial project in Taiwan, Shôji reformulates Japanese colonialism as a challenging but ultimately fruitful collaboration rather than an enterprise of domination and exploitation. In order to explore the intricacies of colonial affiliations and the ways that Shôji imagined colonial Taiwan, this paper will discuss the trope of the family and in particular, focus on the role of female characters within the familial structure. Throughout the novel, the title character Chin Yasuko and other female members of the Chin family maintain the amilial, and thus colonial, structure and serve as what Anne McClintock calls the "boundary markers of empire." By privileging and protecting the sanctity of the family, Yasuko and other female characters fulfill their socially sanctioned roles as wives, mothers, and daughters while also contributing to the larger project of empire. Through an examination of the depiction of female characters in Chin fujin, I will explore the intersection of colonial ideology and specific constructions of gender and discuss Shôji's attempts to legitimate the colonial family.

4) Yukari Yoshihara, Tsukuba University
A Japanese adaptation of Shakespeare's Othello and Japanese Imperialism

Emi Sui'in's Osero is a Japanese adaptation of Shakespeare's Othello. It was performed in 1903 -- eight years after Japan's colonization of Formosa and two years before the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War -- as an experiment in modernization/westernization of Japanese drama. As an adaptation, Emi's work displays ambivalence towards the Western culture represented by Shakespeare's work --- ambivalent in the sense that it forms a part of almost blind admiration for the West while at the same time it shows the traces of Japanese self-fashioning as a colonizing empire almost equal to ( or almost surpassing) the hegemonic West. Cyprus in the original is transformed into Formosa: the colonial conflicts between the Turks and Venice in the early 17th Century become conflicts between China and Japan in the late 19th and early 20th Century. The original Othello, as the only person with the African origin, is an ethnic other in the original, while the Othello figure in the adaptation (Washiro) is ethnically Japanese, yet is heavily discriminated against because of his outcaste class origin. Colonized people in Formosa, including emigrants from continental Chinese and non-Chinese aborigines origin, are represented as "barbarians" who must be protected and "civilized" by Japan. In all of these transformations, I would argue that we can witness the process of appropriating the Western canon for the sake of forced legitimatization of Japanese imperialism.

Discussant: Leo Ching, Duke University


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