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Abstract

This paper is an offshoot of a larger, ongoing project that intends to deal with the relationship between various artistic formations and the dominant culture in Taiwan's post-1949 era. Though the lifting of martial law in 1987 has demarcated this era into two drastically different periods and a clearer contour of the new period seems to be just beginning to emerge in the mid-1990s, various cultural forces are still busily negotiating with each other. Nonetheless, there seems to be a general consensus as to what constitutes a core of the new dominant culture: the spirit of pen-t'u, or a nativist imperative that obliges one to treat Taiwan as the "center" in one's cultural mapping. The primary driving force for this recent reconstitution of Taiwan's dominant culture undoubtedly came from the momentous changes in the political arena in the post-martial law period. This rather crude factor, however, should not obscure our vision of the longer, more far-reaching evolutionary process of cultural change in contemporary Taiwan. Simply put, since the early 1980s, the older cultural hegemony has been seriously contested by forces coming from the Taiwanese cultural nationalism advocated in a vibrant pen-t'u (nativization) trend on the one hand, and from various radical cultural formations on the other. Limited by space, this paper will only deal with specific aspects of the nativization trend, with the main paradigm taken from the literary field. The paper will begin with a brief overview of the indigenous literary discourse in Taiwan’s post-1949 era, followed by analyses of recent scholarly re- evaluations of the Kominka literature from Taiwan’s Japanese period. Through this investigation, I hope to reach a better understanding of some important issues pertaining to contemporary cultural transformation in Taiwan, such as the role of cultural nationalism, the problem of identity construction, and efforts toward institutionalizing Taiwanese literary studies as an academic discipline.

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