Intermarriage and imperial subject formation in colonial Taiwan: Shōji Sōichi’s Chin-fujin
ABSTRACT In this article, I analyze the political significance of Shōji Sōichi’s Chin-fujin (The wife of Mr. Chen), an intricate story of an interracial family in colonial Taiwan struggling to come to terms with their cultural identifications against the backdrop of political upheavals in the late 1910s through the mid-1930. The novel was well received in wartime Japan and received a 1943 Greater East Asia Literary Prize. Contemporary critics praised it for depicting the perseverance of a Japanese woman married into a Taiwanese family and representing a Han-Taiwanese intellectual realistically. Yet, it was the political effect of the novel that was appreciated by those who selected it for the prize. Shōji demonstrated how the policy and political discourse of the Japanese empire could be acted out in a site of family life, the site that was regarded as critically important for colonial control. He depicted a Taiwanese elite man, his Japanese wife, and their mixed-blood daughter as trying to transcend the old categorical distinction between metropolitan Japanese and natives of Taiwan and seeking a new unified identity position based on colonial Taiwan. I want to show the repressive nature of the national subject formation outlined in this colonial fantasy.
KEYWORDS: Taiwan, Japan, imperial-subject literature, colonial policy, subject formation.
Eika Tai is Professor of Japanese at North Carolina State University. She studies multiculturalism in contemporary Japan and colonial policy in Taiwan under Japanese rule. Her publications include Tabunkashugi to Diasupora: Voices from San Francisco, “Japanese Immigration Policy at a Turning Point” (Asian and Pacific Migration Journal), “Korean Ethnic Education in Japanese Public Schools” (Asian Ethnicity), “Kokugo (national language) and Colonial Education in Taiwan” (positions: east asia cultures critique), and “The Discourse of Intermarriage in Colonial Taiwan” (The Journal of Japanese Studies, forthcoming).