Vol. 7, No. 3 (2011): 1–17.
By investigating the case of A-Bian Doll (扁娃, see Figure 1), this paper explores how Kawaii (可愛い, the Japanese word for “cute”) has pervaded in Taiwan, and has since been appropriated by Taiwanese politicians as one of the significant methods for advancing democratisation, and constructing collective imagination and national identities. Particularly, this paper explores how Kawaii is represented and reproduced in Taiwan politics. I will first discuss how Kawaii is produced and consumed in Taiwanese people’s everyday life in relation to the process of democratisation and the formation of consumer society. I will then move to the discussion of the A-Bian Doll and its accessories, which is arguably the most significant example of how Kawaii is made tangible in Taiwanese politics. I will examine how Kawaii is appropriated as a familiar element from Taiwanese culture by former President Chen’s staffers, and is then injected into ingredients drawn from Taiwanese baseball culture and the features of Chen to produce the A-Bian Doll and its accessories. By making and advertising the A-Bian Doll and its accessories, Chen’s staffers create a new culture, and then feed this back into social circulation, mobilise supporters and gain votes.
Yin C. Chuang has a PhD in Sociology from Lancaster University, U.K. and is an assistant professor at the Graduate Institute of Taiwan Culture, Languages and Literature at Taiwan Normal University, Taipei, Taiwan. Her research interests include Nationalism and National Identities, Democratisation, Everyday Practices and Popular Culture. She was a singer-songwriter, a radio presenter and also a consultant in music, design and television advertising for the former Taiwanese President, Chen Sui-Bian. She has published papers, short novels and music, including an academic book “A-Bian’s Extravaganza” and a music album “A Place Called Home.” She is on the editorial panels of the following journals: The Journal of Alternative Perspectives in the Social Sciences (in English), The Central American Journal of Asia Pacific Studies and Taiwan (in English) and Monumenta Taiwanica (in Mandarin).