National history and generational memory – Taiwanese comic books as lieux de mémoire

Zemanek, Adina Simona orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-7960-8646 (2020) National history and generational memory – Taiwanese comic books as lieux de mémoire. Positions: Asia Critique, 28 (2). pp. 389-420. ISSN 1067-9847

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This paper explores the current stage of the national project in Taiwan as reflected in recent comic books. It compares historical comics and graphic memoirs as lieux de mémoire (according to Pierre Nora) and stories that define Taiwan, situated between the "historical apparatus" and cultural memory (in Marita Sturken's terms). It argues that the memoirs’ higher potential appeal is based on their relevance to contemporary concerns, on building links between the wu nianji (五年級) generation and present-day youth, and on depicting history as recoverable through elements of everyday life. The article also highlights borrowings from an existing discourse of national history in the analyzed memoirs, and their new contributions thereto: a focus on the post-war period, a strong generational consciousness, an idea of historical continuity as embodied in present everyday life, a non-antagonistic approach to national history that transcends ethnic and political divides and positions Taiwan in the midst of global flows, and a non-elite view of Taiwan's most recent history grounded in popular culture.

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