Translating the Other: On the Re-circulations of the Tale Sayon’s Bell

in China and Its Others
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Employing the term “translation” as problematics of aboriginal representations in colonial Taiwan, this paper examines how primitivity or exotica of the colonized (the Atayal people) is rendered in Shimizu Hiroshi’s film ‘Sayon’s Bell’ (1943) and other retellings of Sayon Hayun’s story. To highlight the asymmetrical power relations embedded in colonial exchange through translation, this paper first examines Japanese colonizers ’ construction of savagery and civility, analyzing the transfiguring process in which Taiwan’s aborigines are transformed from the savage other to martyred imperial subjects. It then draws on Venuti’s notions of “domestication” and “foreignization”, regarding the dissemination of Japanese colonial discourse as the former whereas the capture of Taiwanese aborigines’ ethnic/racial particularity the latter. Rather than reading the film as an exemplary national-policy film, this paper argues Shimizu’s meditative role as a cultural translator actually creates a space of slippage within colonial discourse as the film contains both domesticating and foreignizing translation tactics. Accordingly, Shimizu’s cinematic techniques and Li Xianglan’s transnational identity suggest more contradictions and ambiguities within imperialization discourse than a clear-cut reinforcement of it.

China and Its Others

Knowledge Transfer through Translation, 1829-2010

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