chapter  12
Taiwan’s post-colonial and queer discourses in the 1990s
ByLIANG-YA LIOU
Pages 19

Why, in the 1990s, were Taiwanese prestigious literary awards often given to writers of either post-colonial or queer fiction? Why did post-colonial and queer discourses become dominant in the literary and cultural fields in 1990s Taiwan? Was it simply because of the traveling of Western theories that made Taiwan part of the global imperial enterprise? Or was it because of the great socio-cultural-political and economic changes that had taken place in Taiwan since the 1980s? But why post-colonial and queer discourses, of all discursive forces? If nativist resistance took root and Taiwanese cultural nationalism started in the early 1980s, which gave post-colonial discourse clout with the critical-literary field, the gay movement barely existed in the 1980s to anticipate the flourishing of queer discourse.1 What were the factors that contributed to the dominance of post-colonial and queer discourses? Due to their racial heritage, the ethnic groups living in Taiwan had divergent views on what constitutes Taiwan’s modernity and post-coloniality. Was ethnic tension also involved in scholars’ and critics’ post-martial law discursive positions, as queer discourse often took to postmodern anti-essentialist play while postcolonial discourse underlined language and memory projects? While both Liao Ping-hui and Chiu Kuei-fen have delved into post-colonial critical debates (Liao 1999; Chiu 2000), I deal with the trajectory of and the complex relationship between post-colonial and queer discourses in 1990s Taiwan. I argue that, while in the spectrum of discursive positions, they were at opposite poles-at the one end was post-colonialism and at the other postmodernism-they influenced and appropriated each other. I will address the cultural politics that gave rise to these discourses before discussing the critical debates within each discourse.