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The Settler Supernatural: Contemporary Taiwanese Popular Culture, the Environment, and the Nativisation of Han Taiwanese Legends

In: International Journal of Taiwan Studies
Author:
Clara Iwasaki Associate Professor of Modern Chinese Literature, Department of Women’s and Gender Studies, and Department of East Asian Studies, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

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Abstract

This article examines how Han Taiwanese myths and urban legends have been associated with the environment and native fauna in the best-selling popular non-fiction publication Monstrous Taiwan and the hit horror film The Tag-Along. This article also looks at how these works can be considered within the framework of settler colonial studies in East Asia. Both works are interested in intervening in popular culture and genre cinema while reframing the horror or supernatural genre as particularly Taiwanese, drawing on urban legends and traditional folk tales. However, the creators of these works persistently characterise Han Taiwanese legends as interchangeable with the native fauna of Taiwan. This move positions Han Taiwanese as inheritors of the natural environment of Taiwan while minimising or, in some cases, tokenising the presence of indigenous Taiwanese people.

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