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The Minor Arts of Daily Life

The Minor Arts of Daily Life: Popular Culture in Taiwan

David K. Jordan
Andrew D. Morris
Marc L. Moskowitz
Copyright Date: 2004
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  • Book Info
    The Minor Arts of Daily Life
    Book Description:

    The Minor Arts of Daily Life is an account of the many ways in which contemporary Taiwanese approach their ordinary existence and activities. It presents a wide range of aspects of day-to-day living to convey something of the world as experienced by the Taiwanese themselves.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6486-6
    Subjects: Anthropology, Sociology, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)

    • 1 Taiwan’s History An Introduction
      (pp. 3-32)
      Andrew D. Morris

      Nothing happens that is not at least in part a result of what has gone before, and so we start this volume with a brief account of Taiwan by historian Andrew D. Morris.

      This chapter is not the whole story. That would take many volumes. It is not the only perspective. There are many voices that deserve to be heard. It is not final. Much is yet to be discovered about the past just as about the present. But it can serve as an orientation to the subject and as a background to the other chapters in this volume.



    • 2 Fowl Play Chicken-Beheading Rituals and Dispute Resolution in Taiwan
      (pp. 35-49)
      Paul R. Katz

      It is in the nature of human life that people do not all agree all of the time, and dispute settlement, formal and informal, is a necessary part of living together. It is often said of Chinese society that mediation and dispute settlement are among its greatest accomplishments. In imperial times, the famous civil service system sent magistrates to all corners of the empire, charging them to oversee tax collection, road repair, civil service exams, police administration, and local ritual. But also—and of central importance—they were charged to settle disputes.

      Most dispute settlement, of course, takes place outside...

    • 3 Pop in Hell Representations of Purgatory in Taiwan
      (pp. 50-64)
      David K. Jordan

      Like Paul Katz in his chapter on chicken-beading rituals, David Jordan is interested in long-lasting Chinese cultural traditions and their contribution to the concepts that people in Taiwan use in approaching the world today. Even when these traditions are not believed or followed, Jordan argues, they constitute part of the “mental furniture” with which people in Taiwan approach daily life.

      In this chapter, Jordan describes two ancient sets of Chinese ideas. The first is the understanding that after death we are all subjected to a close examination by a supernatural court (usually called “hell” by English writers about China) that...


    • 4 From Hidden Kingdom to Rainbow Community The Making of Gay and Lesbian Identity in Taiwan
      (pp. 67-88)
      Scott Simon

      Same-sex sexual attraction is part of the human biological heritage. But different societies have quite different reactions to same-sex attraction on the part of their members. Since the birth and filiation of children are involved, the study of sexual attraction inevitably links to the study of marriage.

      Traditional China saw marriage as a system of social obligations. These included sexual relations between the marriage partners but did not place sexual attraction as such at the center of the relationship. Although women were expected to be sexual partners only to their husbands and to bear them children, there was a wide...

    • 5 Taiwan’s Mass-Mediated Crisis Discourse Pop Politics in an Era of Political TV Call-in Shows
      (pp. 89-108)
      Alice R. Chu

      The role of television and radio in forming public opinion and in responding to it is a fundamental feature of the world we live in. This plays out differently in different countries and is subject to fads and fashions. Taiwan television produces a mix of sitcoms and children’s shows, evening news and cooking shows, talking heads and nature specials. If there is a foreign model inspiring all this, it is certainly American; but at the same time, certain kinds of programs seem to have an especially strong appeal in Taiwan—notably, politically tinged celebrity interviews and call-in shows.

      In the...


    • 6 The Other Woman in Your Home Social and Racial Discourses on “Foreign Maids” in Taiwan
      (pp. 111-128)
      Chin-ju Lin

      Hiring workers is not new in Taiwan. A century ago, tenant farming was one specialized way of hiring labor, but even tenant farmers themselves sometimes borrowed or hired extra farm workers during the busy agricultural season. In towns, hired shop assistants and assistant craftsmen of all kinds were common. With the commercial and industrial expansion of the twentieth century—and particularly of the last forty years or so—working in the family business gradually became a minority way of life, and a career working for others became the expectation and experience of most people in Taiwan.

      But another change has...

    • 7 Hot and Noisy Taiwan’s Night Market Culture
      (pp. 129-149)
      Shuenn-Der Yu

      “Night markets” are periodic markets or fairs of a special kind held throughout the preindustrialized and early industrialized world, whether in France or Turkey, in Indonesia or Mexico. Night markets are in general more devoted to food and strolling with one’s friends than are the more businesslike daytime markets. This is very much the case in Taiwan, and no town or city is to be found without one or more streets where people gather after dark to wander from food stall to food stall eating together. Among the food stalls, peddlers set out for sale miscellaneous goods of every description:...

    • 8 Disciplined Bodies in Direct Selling Amway and Alternative Economic Culture in Taiwan
      (pp. 150-172)
      Chien-Juh Gu

      Economic changes around the world introduce ever-changing opportunities for profit, for loss, and for social engagement. Commerce has a long history in China, of course, and an intimate relationship with the rise of cities. Taiwan a century ago was an agricultural world, but one with towns and cities full of small shops and wandering peddlers. Today most of the population lives in the island’s cities, and the island as a whole has emerged as a powerful marketplace where small shops and wandering peddlers—still on the scene—are joined by department stores, catalog sales, and Internet vendors. In this chapter,...


    • 9 Baseball, History, the Local and the Global in Taiwan
      (pp. 175-203)
      Andrew D. Morris

      Baseball, like other sports, is entertainment. Also like other sports, it can be much more than that. Taiwan is a small place, yet its Little League teams became the most famous in the world. How can this possibly have happened? Clearly, baseball is something special in Taiwan. But baseball is an American game. Why would it become special in Taiwan?

      In this chapter, Andrew Morris traces the particular case of baseball and shows how it has never been just entertainment for Taiwan. Taiwanese are fully aware of baseball’s American and Japanese roots; it was introduced during the Japanese period. These...

    • 10 Yang-Sucking She-Demons Penetration, Fear of Castration, and Other Freudian Angst in Modern Chinese Cinema
      (pp. 204-218)
      Marc L. Moskowitz

      Movies, like baseball, are entertainment. Also like baseball, they are more than entertainment—they are reflections and sources of popular understandings about the world and our place in it.

      Most movies shown in Taiwan are not made in Taiwan. Some are Chinese versions of movies made for many other audiences—often in Japan, Europe, or especially America. Of the films made for Chinese audiences, a very large proportion are made in Hong Kong for an audience of Chinese around the world, including especially Taiwan. To an audience representing the global “Greater China,” Hong Kong films provide a culturally synthesizing medium...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 219-236)
  10. Glossary of Terms and Abbreviations
    (pp. 237-240)
  11. Glossary of Characters
    (pp. 241-246)
  12. References
    (pp. 247-268)
  13. Contributors
    (pp. 269-270)
  14. Index
    (pp. 271-279)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 280-280)