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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Mark V. Cruises Through Taiwan: Ride Report

While I was in Seattle I stopped by Elliot Bay Cycles and was surprised to learn that one of their employees was actually visiting Taiwan for the Bike Festival. I was pretty excited about that (as everyone with connections to Taiwan seems to when a person in a foreign country can find Taiwan on a map), bought a few things and left my contact info. The employee was Mark V. at Bikehugger.

I have to admit that I am pleased with the reports that have been coming in. Mark Blacknell, Beverly Garrity and Mark V. have all done a wonderful job giving readers their impressions of visiting, while negotiating the minefields and pitfalls associated with reporting on Taiwan, especially on a government funded junket.

Here is Mark V's report from his trip.

The only part I had any issue was this little quote:

You see a lot more of the aborginal culture in the east than you do in the other parts of Taiwan, which are heavily influenced by the Han Chinese of mainland descent.
This passage is problematic in many ways. The foremost is that it makes the typically broad assumptions about Taiwan's diverse cultural heritage and loads it with the ideological term "mainland", while further asserting that somehow "Han culture" is uniform and monolithic. This view also fails to take into account the cultural drift that has occurred on Taiwan as the result of Taiwan's unique history of administration from indigenous, Dutch, Cheng, Qing, Japanese, KMT, and constitutional ROC. Each of these structures erected and eliminated borders, shifted economies and engineered new schemes for social mobility within their program. Lastly, this little blurb follows the Chinese nationalist method of conflating concepts of "Chinese/Han" with ideas of modernity and risks linking indigenality with traditionalism.

I know this is a little issue to comment on, and I don't want to detract too much from Mark's wonderful ride report, but I do think as writers we need to be aware that we can inadvertently perpetuate the ideological language of a political program that continues to be colonial in nature.

I probably still have a bee in my bonnet over our missionary encounter last weekend.