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On the Road, Above the Sea: Post-geographic and Bodily Epistemologies in Taiwanese Travelogues

  • Author(s): JESSIE, SSU-FANG LIU
  • Advisor(s): Scruggs, Bert M
  • et al.
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Abstract

Treating the representations of travel as the manifestations of cultural patterns, “On the Road, Above the Sea” traces how a cultural phenomenon emerges, flourishes, and vanishes, and explores how human emotions and perceptions are constructed by this cultural pattern. It uses the lens of travel to examine how geographical and bodily epistemologies construct individual identities, ethnic kinships, and cultural logics in Taiwan. In this study, travelogues are not viewed as a genre that represents objectivity through physical experiences and witness accounts, but are regarded as media that reflect colonial imaginations, national fantasies, and sexual orientations. More importantly, travelogues produce (pseudo-)knowledge to intervene in the identifications of others and ourselves. Looking into the interplay between virtual and actual representations of travel, this study investigates three itineraries: the around-the-island journey in Taiwan, the Taiwanese pilgrimage to Tibet, and the Taiwanese queers’ global journey. These three journeys, as a whole, guide readers to visit islands, plateaus, and overseas to explore the interaction between affect and landscape.

Two theoretical methods are proposed in this study. First, deploying the concept of post-geography, this study considers natural landscape as a materiality that actively engages in identity shaping, extending the Sinophone studies that use linguistic factors to discern diversity. Second, it explores the ways in which bodies participate in knowledge production. For instance, the visceral experiences during the journey yield transcendence and a sense of sympathy, which function as the emotional basis of constructing communities. Positing the island on three different maps, this study explores the colonial legacy and new insular identity of Taiwan, examines the (dis)connection between Taiwan, Tibet and China, and discloses Taiwan’s contribution to global queer epistemology.

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This item is under embargo until August 10, 2020.