Unsilencing and Silences: Topography and Memory of the 1950s White Terror in Taiwan through a Gender Lens
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This thesis disentangles the memory politics of the 1950s White Terror in Taiwan through a gender lens. I draw on concepts of gender studies and memory studies in political violence. Specifically, my focus is the process of silencing on experiences of the 1950s leftist female political prisoners in the Preparatory Office of the National Human Rights Museum (PONHRM), Taiwan’s official memorial institution. The aim of this thesis is twofold: to problematize this official silencing and to analyze the un-official unsilencing on it. I ask the questions: in Taiwan’s National Human Rights Museum (PONHRM), what role does gender play in official silencing on the 1950s leftist women, and how can un-official private testimonies of these women challenge it? My analysis focuses on two official published anthologies of the 1950s White Terror, two memorial installations in Green Island Human Rights Memorial Park – a PONHRM’s memorial site – and two un-official testimonies of the 1950s female leftists. In my analysis, I observe three representational frameworks in official memory – (1) innocence and non-insurgency, (2) normalizing experiences of male political ex-prisoners and (3) familial relationality. My argument is that official memory of the 1950s White Terror depoliticizes women’s political activism and mobilization through an image of a victimized mother in these frameworks. Further, I argue that as counter-memories against PONHRM’s official memory, the two un-official testimonies of the 1950s female leftists show a conceptual visibility of the 1950s women as politicized and mobilized subjects.