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The Authorship of PlaceA Cultural Geography of the New Chinese Cinemas$
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Dennis Lo

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9789888528516

Published to Hong Kong Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789888528516.001.0001

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A Home in Becoming

A Home in Becoming

Forging Taiwan’s Imagined Community in Jiufen

(p.98) 4 A Home in Becoming
The Authorship of Place

Dennis Lo

Hong Kong University Press

Examining Hou Xiaoxian's Dust in the Wind (1986) and City of Sadness (1989) as case studies, this chapter tells the story of how Jiufen, a once sleeping mining community in Northeastern Taiwan, transformed into Taiwan's first site of historical origins almost entirely re-imagined by the Taiwan New Cinema, making it a truly postmodern nativist landmark. This chapter demonstrates how Dust’s rural representations not only stem from the filmmakers' practices of location shooting as cultural remembrance, but also provide spectators with a visual framework for recollecting their own memories. Jiufen is imaged as a paradigmatic Taiwanese hometown, a space in which one has learned to accept one’s unfulfilled aspirations. City re-shapes this image of Jiufen into a metonym for the entire nation, a home where all – regardless of identity – must remember and accept personal loss as part of their collective history. Through City, Jiufen materializes into a paradigmatic site of Taiwan’s coming of age, a heterotopic microcosm of the nascent Taiwanese imagined community. Thrown into the national spotlight by the Taiwan New Cinema, Jiufen transforms off-screen into a socially contested space, attracting the diverse and competing attentions of local and international tourists, preservationists, advertisers, filmmakers, historians, developers, and politicians.

Keywords:   Jiufen, Taiwan New Cinema, Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Dust in the Wind, City of Sadness, Cultural remembrance, Imagined community, Heterotopia, Postmodernity, Film-induced tourism

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