With Ms Tehyun Ma (Bristol University)
Series: London Taiwan Seminar
Date: Thursday 5 March 2009, 6pm-8pm
Venue: Graham Wallas Room (Room A550), London School of Economics (LSE)
Chair: Mr Stuart Thompson (Taiwan Research Programme)
The Guomindang government on Taiwan after 1945 was plagued by the problem of achieving legitimacy, and historians have documented how it sought legitimacy through state terror and a program of nationalist pedagogy. This paper, while acknowledging the significance of these strategies, explores another element of the problem of "sinicisation" on postwar Taiwan. I argue that the Guomindang's ideal of nationhood was produced and disseminated not only through repression and indoctrination, but also through reforms in the mechanics of party rule after 1949. By looking closely at the Minutes of the party's Central Reform Committee from the early 1950s, we can see how the Chinese Nationalists envisaged reconfiguring the relationship between government and citizens on the island. These reformers - profoundly affected by defeat on the Mainland and the achievements of Japanese administration on Taiwan - strove to solidify their rule by bringing into being a modern, rational, and predictable state; one that in its smooth functioning was meant to embody the virtues of the Chinese nation. Such ambitions could never be fully realised, and the problem of legitimacy endured, but the attempt to remake the state of the state on postwar Taiwan left a marked imprint on the politics and society of the island.
About the speaker
Ms Tehyun Ma is a final year Phd student in the Department of History at Bristol University. She completed her BA in History and International Relations at the University of Pennsylvania and took her Masters at Bristol. Her interests lie in the history of Republican-era China and especially the work of the Nationalist government on postwar Taiwan.