Governing Sex, Building the Nation: The Politics of Prostitution in Postcolonial Taiwan (1945-1979)
Governing Sex, Building the Nation explores the sexual politics of Chinese nationalism in Taiwan between 1945 and 1979, focusing on the politicisation of prostitution and its role in the reproduction of postcolonial nationhood. This book examines the political struggle over prostitution policy that was framed within and through contested knowledge, rationales and tactics underpinning the nationalist project, constructing and policing prostitution as a social/national problem, yet also creating a market for prostitution and turning it into political opportunities that served a variety of nationalistic interests.
Locating this in the larger Asian struggle with colonial influence on prostitution, the author provides interesting and rare accounts of official perspectives and tactics regarding prostitution in the Taiwanese context, in order to explore the interlinkages between post/colonialism, prostitution and nationalism. Featuring insights into Japanese and Chinese colonialism and the Eastern Asian experience of postcolonialism, this book shifts academic attention from mainstream postcolonial studies, which highlight Western colonialism and Indian and African postcolonialism. It thereby discovers more diverse approaches to postcolonial nation-building and a more intricate interaction between colonial powers and the colonised society, and, as such, adds new depth to postcolonial studies. Bringing the politics of nationalism and postcolonialism into the study of prostitution policies, this book also provides an understanding of prostitution in a once-colonised society in contrast to the broadly recognised gender and sexual politics of prostitution in the Western context.
Wan-Chen Yen completed her PhD at the Department of Sociology, of the University of Essex, UK, and studies gender and postcolonial issues linking women’s history, social policy, commercial sex, and globalisation. She currently lives in Kaohsiung, researching the policing of commercial sex in Taiwan’s history.
“This [is] a detailed and nuanced exploration of the politics of prostitution in the context of Chinese nation building in postcolonial Taiwan. It is set in the context of the history of Taiwan’s colonisation by the Japanese and its postcolonial development under a mainland Chinese government, the GMD. This book makes a significant contribution to our understanding of Taiwan’s history, and has the potential to become a benchmark study in the field.”
Professor Eamonn Carrabine,
University of Essex
“Dr Yen’s study offers a rigorous and original analysis of the politics of prostitution in post-colonial Taiwan under the GMD from the 1940s to the 1970s. The study shows how the GMD’s one-party regime sought to create a new national identity for Taiwan through its negotiation of powerful regional and global influences and by re-framing its ‘hostile’ relationships with Japanese former colonisers and US military and business interests. Both of these helped to re-invent sex work on the ground in Taiwan. The book uses sex work to explore the much broader themes of gender, power and post-colonial nation-building in East Asia.”
Professor Pamela Cox,
University of Essex
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