With the abolition of martial law in 1987 and the following democratization process, Taiwan’s four mayor ethnic groups (si da zuqun) began to develop an ethnic identity as well as a collective sense of identity. These emerging identities were though not just a mere product of the post-war era, but had been constituted by the crucible of Japanese colonial rule (1895–1945).
Many Han-Chinese in Taiwan conceived the Qing-Dynasty’s cession of Taiwan to Japan in 1895 as a betrayal. As they didn’t receive equal treatment with Japanese during the ensuing fifty years of Japanese rule, many Han Taiwanese felt neither belonging to China nor to Japan. Caught in this field of tension between China and Japan, Taiwanese intellectuals started to draw attention to their “special situation” and engaged in a “national movement” (minzoku undô).
In respect to the struggle for identity of these intellectuals, a discussion of Yanaihara Tadao’s work is very instructive. As professor for colonial studies at Tokyo Imperial University (1920–1937), he compiled the detailed study Taiwan under Japanese Imperialism. The critical and comprehensive approach adopted made it a fundamental source for postcolonial research on Japanese rule in Taiwan, as well as the “national movement”. Based on Yanaihara’s study on Taiwan, this article shows the impact Japanese colonial policy had on Taiwanese livelihood, thus explaining the reasons for the formation of the Taiwanese “national movement”. By comparing Yanaihara’s colonial criticism and alternative with the claims of the proponents of the “national movement”, and the affirmation of Taiwan’s current multicultural identity, this article illuminates parallels between Yanaihara and Taiwanese identity in both past and present day Taiwan.
It has become customary to refer to traditional Indian performance genres as “dance-theatre” in cases where they patently display techniques of narration or storytelling, carried out through the codified and controlled use of the body in time with the music of instruments and sung lyrics. The Indic vocabulary dedicates a specific term, nṛtya, to those forms in which the narrative element clearly prevails over the abstract dance movements—where gestures and facial expressions are used to communicate emotions but the dialogues or poetic lines are assigned to a singer and not recited by the actor/dancer. However, if we look at the way in which Sanskrit theoreticians have divided the spectacular object into specific genres, things get fuzzy. The ancient theory of Indian theatre (Nāṭyaśāstra, 2nd century BC–4th century AD?), in fact, acknowledges only a binary distinction between “theatre” (nāṭya)—the conjunction of a dramatic text and its representation on stage—and “dance” (nṛtta)—movements set to a rhythm with the sole aim of producing beauty and devoid of a narrative-cum-representational function. From this perspective, the recognition of a narrative capacity in dance looks more like the fruit of great theoretical effort rather than a natural development, which has posed a number of significant challenges to literary critics, who must painstakingly negotiate between the constantly evolving genres of performance, the binding categories reiterated in the śāstras (authoritative treatises), and the newly developed aesthetic theories of drama, requiring an ever more specialized concept of dramatic mimesis. Apart from giving an overview of how the performance genres are divided and classified in the Sanskrit treatises, with an explanation of the relevant vocabulary, this article will focus on some of the theoretical problems that emerge when dance starts to narrate stories, in particular in the work of Abhinavagupta, a prominent Kashmirian philosopher writing at the turn of the first millennium.