Individual Memories, National History and Identity – Taiwanese Graphic Memoirs as lieux de mémoire

Zemanek, Adina Simona orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-7960-8646 (2015) Individual Memories, National History and Identity – Taiwanese Graphic Memoirs as lieux de mémoire. In: The North American Taiwan Studies Association 2015 Annual Conference “Motion and the Motionless: (Dis-/Re-) Connecting Taiwan to the World”, 11-13 June 2015, Harvard University. (Unpublished)

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This paper examines memory and history as employed for the construction of Taiwanese national identity in comic books, a seldom discussed domain of popular culture. The national identity project in Taiwan stems from the need for an immovable center, but due to both internal transformations and the island's international situation, it has been in a state of incessant motion and (re)articulation. My presentation reflects the newest stage of this process; it focuses on two recent graphic memoirs, Lin Lijing's My Youth, My Formosa (2012) and Sean Chuang's Diary of the 80s in Taiwan (2013), considered in the light of Pierre Nora's concept of lieux de mémoire. These memoirs commemorate the past from an individual standpoint, but make it relevant to larger, generational communities, and to a national project; as a result, the collective memory they invoke has the potential of becoming a living presence for the readers. They display influences of an existing discourse of national history (a preoccupation with rewriting history from a Taiwanese standpoint and with establishing historical continuity), but also contribute new aspects: a focus on the post-war period, a strong generational consciousness, a depiction of the past as embodied in present everyday life, and a non-antagonistic view of history and national identity not as a fixed entity, but as a constantly evolving matrix shaped by the interplay of diverse, global and local factors.

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