Taiwan National Day 2022 as art – this emerging Taiwanese national identity: Taiwan dispatch and Taiwan Republic 台灣国 classrooms

This emerging modern Taiwanese national identity. I took the subway (two convenient stops) to the Japanese Colonial Administration Building 臺灣總督府/Presidential Palace to see the “national” day laser show. I then walked around the palace and then walked home, less than half an hour, relatively safe (scooters notwithstanding, no guns, few muggings, etc.) This is probably the first time since I was ten, that I have shed a tear or had any feelings for this day. And it is in how President Tsai’s folks narrated the show, through Taiwanese artists, musicians, and filmmakers, melding home, family, and nation together — a Taiwan that belongs to the world — while opening that democratic space I have been writing about where more Taiwanese who immigrated before 1949, from 1945 to 1949, and after, could find democratic, peaceful common ground in this emerging Taiwanese nation. I have here the moment when the last painting of my favorite artist Chen Cheng-po of Taiwan Republic’s sacred Jade Mountain came on screen and my eyes teared up, he was murdered by the invading China KMT, and the show followed with this complex blend of people, ideas, and ways of telling this Taiwan story. Whatever differences we may have, this is where we were born, this is the soil that nurtured us, this is the nation we share, and this is where we will die. Or, as I wrote this morning, nationalism-patriotism without loving the human beings who share this land is meaningless. Nations are not about flags and names and constitutions and “history.” Many western and even many Asian/Taiwanese scholars are missing or ignoring the importance of this massive national identity engineering project of President Tsai. An impressive feat, taking the symbol of colonial administration, to Chinese KMT colonial occupation, and projecting diverse Taiwanese film and art and music and collective memory onto that symbol — in my own lifetime, I have witnessed that same building used by dictator Chiang Ching-Kuo extolling us to take back his fictionalized China, to this new emerging Taiwanese nation with democratic sovereignty. This relatively bloodless national revolution, decades in the making, marches on. Remarkable. May Taiwan Republic, democracy and human rights, full of art and music and good food, emerge from this process. 8.10.2022

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