The ocean plays an indispensable role in the cultural imaginary of Taiwan, and oceanic writing underwent various metamorphoses in the second half of Taiwan’s 20th century. It was initially associated with national defence, and an integral part of the military literature encouraged by the Nationalist Party (KMT). But since the 1980s, ocean-related ecological essays by female authors instilled fresh vitality into the genre. And in the 1990s, following the growth of Taiwanese cultural nationalism, representations of the ocean became powerful tactics to articulate Taiwan’s new imaginary as an “oceanic country” vis-à-vis the KMT-imposed continental (Republic of) China. Since the Millennium, this oceanic conceptualization of Taiwan was further consolidated, positioning Taiwan as part of the Austronesian family, connected with other island cultures instead of as a peripheral island off the vast Chinese mainland. Employing genealogical and textual analysis and engaging with eco-criticism and indigenous studies, this interdisciplinary project traces oceanic literature across multi-genre works from post-war Taiwan by writers both Han and indigenous, male and female.
Pei-yin holds a PhD from SOAS (University of London), an MPhil in Chinese Studies from Cambridge, and MAs in Postcolonial Studies from Kent, and in European Languages, Literature and Thought from Queen Mary (University of London). She is Associate Professor at the School of Chinese, HKU, and has taught at Cambridge, National University of Singapore, and SOAS. She was a Harvard-Yenching Visiting Scholar (2015-2016). Her recent publications include Colonial Taiwan: Negotiating Identities and Modernity through Literature (Brill, 2017), East Asian Transwar Popular Culture (Palgrave, 2019, co-edited), and Positioning Taiwan in a Global Context: Being and Becoming (Routledge, 2019, co-edited).