Vol. 10, No. 2 (2014): 35–72.
Globalisation, which has become a buzzword in current debates, is said to deconstruct and replace nations in “the era of post-nationalism.” On the other hand, fear of being inundated with globalism rekindles local consciousness, forging more “imagined communities” that are co-constituted by interlaced local liaisons. As a consequence, nationalism does not fade out, but undergoes a series of transformations. National narratives re-emerge with varied facets and more localised substantiation. Blitzkrieg Siraya, a Tai-gi puppet play marks this new breed of “glocalised national narrative”—a new discourse fermented by both globalism and localism. Debuting in 2010, Blitzkrieg Siraya receives much acclamation. It tells of how descendants of Han immigrants and Siraya, a lowland Austronesian people populating southern Taiwan, transcend mutual animosity and fight together against an evil spirit to defend their homeland. The narrative gives a vivid picture of Siraya’s matrifocal culture, challenging Han-dominated ethnic stereotypes and male-centric gender bias. Two other factors distinguish Blitzkrieg Siraya from other Taiwan-made puppet plays. Unlike Taiwan’s traditional puppet shows, which are confined to Chinese framework, Blitzkrieg Siraya is based on Taiwan’s historical context. Moreover, it is the first Tai-gi puppet play that highlights Sirayans, who were barely mentioned in the Chinese-Han-dominant discourse. Blitzkrieg Siraya re-addresses Taiwan as a multi-ethnic society with solid Austronesian roots. Its production corresponds to the Zeitgeist or structure of feeling, which is shaped by intertwining agents, such as worldwide indigenes’ movements since the second half of the twentieth century, Taiwan’s recent political liberation, Taiwan’s Austronesian activism since the 1980s, and the ensuing lowland Austronesian revitalisation in the last two decades. Furthermore, the play pinpoints challenges that Taiwan must face in today’s globalised surroundings, and provides “imagined” solutions to interethnic problems. The article explores how entangled dynamics co-effectuate a new national narrative in Blitzkrieg Siraya, and what the new discursive space signifies in a glocal perspective.
Tenn Nga-i is a PhD candidate in the Department of Taiwan Culture, Languages and Literature, National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU), Taipei, Taiwan. She holds a Master of Arts (MA) in journalism from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and an MA in Taiwanese Literature from National Cheng-kung University, Tainan, Taiwan. Her research interests range from Lowland Austronesian studies, ethnicities, feminism, nationalism, Hoklo and Hakka literatures to social linguistics, pop culture and folk studies. For years, she has been participating in the revitalisation of Taiwanese native tongues, such as Tai-gi, Hakka and the Austronesian Siraya language. Her recent publications include, “Dialectics between Hakka Femininity, Hakkaness, and Taiwanness in the Film 1895,” Archiv orientální, vol. 79, No. 3 (2011) and “A Preliminary Study on Sex-related Swear Words in Hak-fa and Tâi-gí,” Monumenta Taiwanica, No. 5 (2012).