The Unspeakable Shame the Politics of Memory during Cold War in Taiwan

Friday, July 18, 2014: 3:30 PM
Room: Booth 46
Oral Presentation
Ling-yu Agnes HSIAO , University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom
How do political victims recall and deal with their pasts after prolonged grievous state violence? This is a research aims to account for the way in which the politically victimised ones in Taiwan look back on their pasts during the Cold War from the present point. Whilst conducting interviews with the victimised individuals, as former state enemy, informants are prone to conceal their pasts as to their treason crimes, and even tend to deny the pasts in public. The attitude highlights the impasse of transitional justice work in Taiwan, while the society has not provided the former state enemies enough rooms to voice their deeds that had once seemed to be committed crimes. In addition, informants of the research express an emotion of shame that they even have never voiced to the loved ones. Yet, after the fieldwork for years, the informants disclose their unspeakable shame to researcher such as I during interviews. It is salient to denote that the emotion of shame that has intertwined with their memories is not remnants of the state violence or political stigma. In stark contrast, a shame was derived by the depression of not revolting the regime successfully. As the society see these individuals as victims, they tend to see themselves as revolutionaries instead.

The research aims to elicit the hidden context of the collective state of mind of the former state enemy in Taiwan. With in-depth interviews and collected data, the paper manages to analyse the subjectivities of these individuals through their memories. By unraveling the way in which the victimised individuals remember their life stories, the research aims to deliver another perspective of the politics of memory in Taiwan.