label r shifted
Session C3
Imagine Abroad: Cultural Context of Taiwan’s Travel Notes during the Martial Law Period
林淑慧 Shu-Hui Lin
Taiwan Culture, Languages and Literature, National Taiwan Normal University, Taiwan

It is the 30th anniversary of the declaration of the end to the martial law period in Taiwan in 2017. Varieties of commemorative activities and conferences held in the academic circle, aiming to discuss the influence of thoughts from the martial law period and explore the cultural changes over the years. Travel notes are one of the ways to represent the world, and are a part of literary production during the martial law period, closely associated with cultural communication. Travel writing not only contains writers’ travel experiences but also implies influences on politics, economy, and cultural capital. Since traveling abroad usually refers to the course of exploring different cultures, capital operations are commonly involved during the process of leaving and back home.

During the martial law period, Taiwan people’s chances to travel abroad were limited. However, authors who participated in International Visitors Programs visited with various purposes according to their positions. Travel writings by Taiwan intellectuals are a part of literary production during the cold war period. Wu Lu-Qin, a member of the United States Information Service in Taiwan accepted the sponsorship of the United States Department of State’s “International Visitor Leadership Program” and visited the U.S. on this program. He wrote the book Going and Coming to the U.S., recording his trip to America in 1952. In April 1965, Lin Hai-yin, a famous Taiwanese female writer was invited to visit the United States for four months. Her travel works on the visit were published in the United Daily News, Mandarin Daily News, Women and other magazines and were later collected into Being A Guest in the U.S., published in 1966. Travel notes mostly illustrate the cultural images and discourses on visits in the context of the martial law period. Moreover, some authors were able to “travel around the world” and publish their travel notes because of their special identity. For example, Zhong Mei-Yin’s husband was the Sales Director of the company, Taiwan Fertilizer Co.; she used public affairs as a reason to go aboard. Zhong Mei-Yin had unique positions in the cultural production field. After returning to Taiwan, Zhong wrote Trek across the Sea and Sky, showing her traces extended to Asia, Europe, the U.S. and other countries. Zhong's travel note published in 15 editions during the martial law period; this publication formed the influence to some extent due to its broad appeal.

Travel notes provide an access to approach and understand the structure of feelings in the martial law period. Under the anticommunist atmosphere, the authors thought about the problems of homeland by observing cultural contexts of foreign countries. Some travel writings compared foreign experiences to Taiwanese experiences, implying the necessity of conflict, comparison and absorption for Taiwan to implement a more efficient new plan. By exploring cultures worldwide, writers intended to shape an ideal society, inspiring changes in Taiwan. Travel writings of the martial law period unveil spatial memories of the cultural landscapes and reveal intellectual elites' comments and remarks on liberal worlds. What “global” picture do the cultural differences, political and economic development in these travel notes imply? This paper will apply the Digital National Security Archive (DNSA) to collect background information and furthermore discuss how authors conveyed their opinions and analyze the cultural context of the period. Through studying the literary production and spread of travel notes during the martial law period, we expect to respond to the issue of freedom.