Transforming frontiers : the imagined geography of Taiwan's internal frontiers in postwar indigenous films = 化界 : 台灣戰後原住民主題電影中內部邊界的想像地理

Document Type

Journal article

Source Publication

Taiwan Journal of Indigenous Studies = 台灣原住民族研究季刊

Publication Date

Summer 9-1-2015





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College of Indigenous Studies, National Dong Hwa University


frontier, imagined geography, indigenous film, landscape representation, Taiwan, 邊界, 想像地理, 原住民電影, 風景再現, 台灣


This article is a study of the 'imagined geography' of Taiwan's alpine, plains, and island frontiers in two dozen films featuring indigenous peoples. I make the following observations and arguments: Many pre-1987 alpine films were produced by government studios, which tried to tum the indigenous high mountain frontier into a Chinese national space. The plains frontier did not feature in cultural production until the 1980s, in two films made by mainlanders in response to the rise of Taiwanese nationalism. Taiwan's island frontier (Orchid Island) has been consistently exoticized to promote tourism. Yet all three frontiers have undergone a process of representational Sinicization and Indigenization, with a corresponding shift in the agency of transformation, from center to frontier. The shift takes place around the lifting of Martial Law in 1987. In pre-1987 films, Chinese settlers transform frontier landscapes and indigenous peoples, while in post-1987 films, indigenous frontier landscapes transform Chinese (or Taiwanese) visitors, making them start to reflect on their way of life.


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Copyright © 2015 National Dong Hwa University. College of Indigenous Studies

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Recommended Citation

Sterk, D. (2015). Transforming frontiers: The imagined geography of Taiwan's internal frontiers in postwar indigenous films = 化界 : 台灣戰後原住民主題電影中內部邊界的想像地理. Taiwan Journal of Indigenous Studies, 8(2), 67-114.