On the Edge and in between: The Predicaments of Taiwanese Subjectivity Reflected by “Cape No. 7” and Its Aftermath

Abstract

 
This paper discusses the formation of Taiwanese subjectivity and its postcolonial predicaments through an analysis of Cape No. 7, a 2008 romantic comedy set in modern Taiwan with remnants of its colonial Japanese past. Many would agree that Cape No. 7 is something of a social phenomenon, due to not only its unexpected blockbuster success, but also conversations it generated concerning “Taiwaneseness,” grass root culture and “re-discovering” the marginalized coastal town where the film setting takes place. Among which, its portrayal of an unfinished love story set in 1945 between a Japanese teacher and his deserted Taiwanese student prodded the sensitive nerves of some who believed that the Taiwanese schoolgirl’s yearning for the love of her teacher represents “Taiwan’s own yearning to be recolonized,” and prompted some critics to question the “Taiwanese subjectivity.” It has also triggered speculations that the film’s postponed release in China stems from the Chinese concern of its Kouminka effect. While the plot is purely fictional, and the wartime romance receives little actual screen time, the reactions it spurred demonstrates the memories of Taiwan’s colonial history and “Japan” are susceptible to various interpretations. I examine the disputes voiced by the film’s supporters and the people who contend that the film portrays a Taiwan that is “shadowed by Japanese colonialism.” Though the nationalistic standpoint seems outdated in today’s Taiwan, its presence epitomizes the constant tug-of-war between “Japan” and “China” in the formation of Taiwanese subjectivity, and emphasizes the presence of colonial “Japan” in the Taiwanese consciousness. I will discuss, in particular, in the wake of globalization, whether Taiwan’s hybridity would allow for more openness and tolerance for transnational cultures, or would she develop an “orphan consciousness” due to her neither-Chinese-nor-Japanese peripherality.
 



Author Information
Chia-fung Schuemann-Lin, University of Tsukuba, Japan

Paper Information
Conference: ACCS2013
Stream: Cultural Studies

This paper is part of the ACCS2013 Conference Proceedings (View)
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