Society and Identity
The literature of gender and family in Taiwan often focuses on the impact of socio-economic transformation and democratization on gender relationship in the family and society. We address the issue of women and family from the perspective of the rise of the Cold War in East Asia in the 1950s and extend the scope to post-Cold War Taiwan. The détente of the Cold War in East Asia accelerated socio-economic and political fluctuations in all the East Asian countries. The normalization between the People’s Republic of China and the US in 1979 had fundamental influences on the economic development and political transformation in Taiwan. In the wake of the Nationalist government’s retreat from China to Taiwan in the late 1940s, both men and women were mobilized and were asked for self-sacrifice by the state in different ways in the name of the retaking of China. The differences were shaped by political ideology and Chinese kinship culture. Other than the culturally assigned wife-mother type, women were unprecedentedly encouraged to take wage work outside the family. Papers presented in this panel examine the gender politics in the Cold War and post-Cold War context in Taiwan with special reference to Jinmen, Taiwan’s frontline against Communist China in the Cold War era. Isabelle Cheng focuses on the establishment of the Women’s Army Corps and investigates the complicated relationship between women and war and the state’s gender politics in the Cold War period. Female officers were working women in the 1960s. Chang-hui Chi examines the knowledge and beliefs surrounding production, distribution and consumption of food sacrifices which not only established the social value of women, but also secured their domestic power. Even in the Cold War context when local society was en route to militarization, the war did not deprive women of domestic power. Ming-feng Liu examines the repression of women’s agency in exercising citizenship from the perspective of the role of state and patriarchal lineage play in creating political involution. Women’s citizenship was in fact constrained and caused an involution in gender politics in Jinmen. Mei-huan Lu underscores women’s self-empowerment by looking into how their worship of Mazu (Goddess of Sea) inspired some women in a fishing village to become celibate and to organize same-sex families despite objections from their parents. Women are able to strengthen their agency through their faith in Mazu to redefine the meaning and structure of family in post-Cold War Taiwan.