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Governing the Arts, Governing the State: Peking Opera and Political Authority In Taiwan

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Governing the Arts, Governing the State: Peking Opera and Political Authority In Taiwan
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  Governing the Arts, Governing the State: Peking Opera and Political Authority in TaiwanAuthor(s): Nancy GuyReviewed work(s):Source: Ethnomusicology, Vol. 43, No. 3 (Autumn, 1999), pp. 508-526Published by: University of Illinois Press on behalf of Society for Ethnomusicology Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/852559. Accessed: 17/11/2011 01:43 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jspJSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org. University of Illinois Press and Society for Ethnomusicology are collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserveand extend access to  Ethnomusicology. http://www.jstor.org  VOL.3,NO.3ETHNOMUSICOLOGYFALL999 GoverningtheArts,GoverningtheState: PekingOperaand PoliticalAuthorityinTaiwan NANCYGUY/UniversityofCalifornia,SanDiego Until very recently,Pekingopera'sprimary patroninTaiwan(theRe-publicofChina)was theMinistryofNationalDefense's General Po-liticalWarfareDepartment.Over thelastforty-plus years,anywherefromthreeto sevenopera troupesenjoyedits totalsponsorship.TheMinistryofEducationsupported yetanothermajorPekingoperatroupe.Suchministe-rialadministrationelevatedPekingoperato apositionofextraordinarypriv-ilegeandprestigeinTaiwan. Thestate'samplesupportforPekingoperacontrastedstarklywithits virtualneglectof theindigenousTaiwaneseoper-atictraditiongezaixi),which was farmorepopularthanPekingoperaamongTaiwanesepeople.1Notonlyhas the nationalgovernmentnevermaintainedaTaiwaneseopera troupe,governmentalpolicyalsoactivelydiscourageditsperformancefordecades(Tsai1993:44-45).Itwasonlyunderintensepres-surethat the statefinallyaunched aTaiwaneseoperacurriculum n thesum-merof1994attheNationalFuHsingDramaticArtsAcademy(GuoliFuxingJuyiShiyanXuexiao)supported bytheMinistryofEducation.2Strategiesofgoverningareoftenclearlyreflectedinstrategiesfor man-aginginstitutions thatare,or canbecome,politically symbolic.This be-comesapparentuponcloseinvestigationof thegoalsand mechanisms ofstate control andsponsorshipof thearts.Icontend that anexamination ofculturalpolicyilluminateshow aregimewishes torepresentitselfdomes-tically,and thenation'simageinternationally.Thisstudywillshow that statecontrol ofpolitically symbolicinstitutions canclearlyreflect thepoliciesandideologybasic to aregime'sstrategiesforgoverning.When aperforn,ingart isappropriatedasapolitical symbolitbecomes one ofmultiplehegemonicapparatusesused tospreadtheideologyof theappropriator.Thus,exploringagovernment'sassertions ofauthorityandlegitimacy,andhow thoseassertions arerepresented,is anappropriatepreludeto investi- ?1999bytheBoard of Trustees of theUniversityof Illinois 508  Guy:PekingOperaand PoliticalAuthorityin Taiwan509gatingthesymbolic purposeswhichperformingartsareoften made toserve(seeFulcher1987:47).Pekingoperahad animportantrole toplayin thegoverningofTaiwanbytherulingNationalistparty.Inthisarticle,Idemonstrate howPekingoperawasactivelypromotedinTaiwan to further theregime'spoliticalgoals.The recentdemocratization of Taiwanand thesubsequentshift inits dominantideologyoffer anopportunityto examinethe fate of apoliti-cizedartforminthewake of such achange.Thiscasestudyalso demon-stratesthatculturalpolicyand thedebateoverwhat is funded andpromotedisone of theprimarygroundsuponwhichstrugglesforpower,authority,and therighttoberepresentedarefought.Thereare threeprimaryareas in whichtheNationalists believed thatPekingoperacouldhelpinachievingtheirpoliticalgoals.First,intheirstrugglewiththeiconoclastBeijinggovernmentforinternationalrecogni-tion,theNationalistsportrayedthemselves as theguardiansoftraditionalChineseculture,which inturn,bolstered theirclaims tolegitimaterule ofall of China.Pekingopera,maintained initstraditionalform,was ideal forpromotingtheNationalistregime's imageas theprincipalpreserverof tra-ditionalChinese culture.Second,Pekingoperahad beenenormouslypop-ular on theChinesemainlandpriorto theNationalists'exile. The National-istsrecognizedthepowerofPekingoperatoarousefeelingsofnostalgiafor the losthomeland,andtherefore,promoteditsperformance,especial-lyformilitaryofficers andpersonnel.Third,as amainland-derivedform,Pekingoperabecame acomponentin theNationalist-constructed"nation-alculture."Withthepromotionof "nationalculture" camethesuppressionanddisparagementof localTaiwaneseculture.Beforepresentingthis casestudy,abrief historicaloverview isuseful.The island ofTaiwanlies about100 milesfrom theChinese mainland. De-spiteits relativeproximity,itremained afrontierregiononChina'speriph-erythroughthemid-nineteenthcentury.Taiwan'ssrcinalinhabitants areMalayo-Polynesianandremained theisland'smajority populationuntil thenineteenthcentury(Copper1990:8).Nearlyall ofTaiwan'searlyChineseimmigrantshailedfromeither theQuanzhouandZhangzhouprefecturesofsouthernFujianprovince,or fromeasternGuangdongprovince.ThosefromFujianwerespeakersof localvariants of theHokkien dialect whiletheimmigrantsfromGuangdongbelongedto adistinctChinesesubethnicgroupknown as the"Hakka"kejiaren).Drawnbythe island'svirginlandandcommercialopportunities,theChinesepopulationhadrisen tonearlythree millionbythe late1890s,with82percentof thesettlersbeingHok-kien,and16percentHakka(Lamley1981:291-292).Taiwanbecame aChineseprovincein1886.LessthantenyearsaftergrantingTaiwanprovincialstatus,Chinalostcontrol ofTaiwan toJapan  510Ethnomusicology,Fall1999followingdefeat inthe1894Sino-JapaneseWar.Taiwan remained aJapa-nesecolonyforfifty years.Atthe close ofWorld WarII,control ofTaiwanwas returnedtoChina,whichwasthenundertheleadershipofChiangKai-skek and hisNationalistgovernment.PeopleinTaiwan wereinitiallyelat-edbythe news thattheywouldbe freed ofJapanesecolonialpower,andreunited withtheir Chinesehomeland.However,relationsbetween Taiwan-esepeopleandtheNationalistsquicklysoured. Tensionsbetween the twogroupsrose andexplodedintoviolence onFebruary28,1947.Nationalistmilitarysuppressionwasbrutal;anestimated18,000peoplediedinthestruggle.Memoriesofthe"February8Incident of1947"still underlie muchof theongoingtension between the twogroups.The Nationalists viewed theproblemsinTaiwan asminor when com-paredwith theircontinuing strugglewithMaoTse-tungand theChineseCommunists forcontrol of theChinese mainland.Inlate1949,the Com-munistshadgainedcontrol ofmost of themainland;the Nationalists hadlittlerecourse but to withdraw toTaiwan.Bytheearly1950s,nearlytwomillionrefugeeswhooptedfor lifeunderNationalist,ratherthan Commu-nist,rulehad landed onTaiwan. This numberincludedalargeportionoftheNationalistgovernmentofficialsandmilitary personnel.TheChinesewho followedthe Nationalists toTaiwan--regardlessof theirprovinceofsrcin-shareda commonidentityonthe island as"outsiders"(waishen-gren,lit."outside-provincepeople").For thepurposeofthispaper,"out-siders"are referred to as"Mainlanders."Untilvery recently,Mainlandershavetended to maintainstrongpsychologicaltiesto themainland,and toregardTaiwanasonlyatemporaryrefuge.Thus three distinct and oftenmutuallyantagonistgroupshad come toinhabit Taiwan: the Taiwanese(or"nativeTaiwanese");the"Mainlanders"(that is,all Chinese who movedto Taiwan after1945and their descen-dants);and theabsrcines.TheTaiwanese,comprisedof both the Hakkaand Hokkiengroups,consider Taiwan to be theirancestral home. Taiwan-esecurrentlyconstitute about85percentofTaiwan'spopulation,and ofthese,about 20percentareHakka.Approximately12percentof theisland'sresidents areMainlanders,withtheabsrcines formingless than2percentofTaiwan's totalpopulation.Contributingto thepersistenceofthe "Main-lander-Taiwanese"distinction is theconceptthat aperson'snativeplaceis not determinedbybirthplace,but ispassedonfrom father to child. Forexample,apersonborninTaiwan is consideredSichuaneseifhisor herfather'sancestralhomeisSichuan,eventhoughs/hemaynever have beentomainland China. One'sethnicityisaprimary identityfor ChineselivingonTaiwan. Untilrecently,thisidentitywasreinforced ininnumerablewayssuch asthelistingofone's ancestral home on officialpapers(Tsang1993:7).Asbeingborn onTaiwan doesnotnecessarilymake one"Taiwanese,"the  Guy: PekingOperaand PoliticalAuthorityin Taiwan511distinctionbetweenTaiwaneseand Mainlandersmaybe carriedonwellbeyondthedeathof the lastMainlanderrefugee.NationalistLegitimacyOncetheNationalistgovernmentset itselfupinTaiwan,recoveryofthe mainlandbecameits chiefobjectiveanddominantideology.3Oneoftheirprimarystrategiesforpursuingmainlandrecoverywas tokeepalivetheirclaimthatthey,and notthe CommunistregimeinBeijing,werethetruelegitimaterulersofChina.The tworegimes'struggleforlegitimacyspreadbeyondChina'sbordersastheyvied forthe officialrecognitionofindividualcountries,andforentryintointernationalorganizationssuchasthe UnitedNations.As TienHung-Maoexplained,"To bea viableindepen-dentnation-staterequireslegalrecognitionfrom othernation-states;thenation-statemustalso beable to conductwide-rangingactivitiesin thein-ternationalarena.Bythesametokenthelegitimacyof apoliticalregimedependson externaldiplomaticrecognition"(1989:216).Eventhoughinrealityit had controlofonly1/260of Chineseterrito-ry,the NationalistregimemaintaineditsstandingastherepresentativeofChinain the UnitedNationsformore thantwo decadesafterit fledtheChinesemainlandforTaiwan.ItalsosuccessfullyblockedBeijingfrom form-ingdiplomatictieswithmanyof theworld's mostinfluentialnationsthroughthe late1970s.This remarkablefeat must beattributedin somedegreetothe Nationalists'abilityto convincetheworldcommunitythattheywereindeedthelegitimateChinesegovernment.In theirstrugglewith the Communistgovernmentfor internationalrecognition,theNationalistsportrayedthemselvesastheguardiansandpossessorsof China'sancienttraditionsandculture.This,inturn,strength-ened theirclaimstolegitimaterule.Pekingoperahad cometo standas aproudsymbolof traditionalChineseculturein theearlydecadesof thetwentiethcentury.The1930AmericanperformancetourbyMeiLanfang,one of China'sforemostPekingoperaactors,wassignificantin the forma-tion ofPekingopera'srole asasymbolwhichwas readbyforeigners,andlaterbytheChinesethemselves,asrepresentingChina'sancientand ven-erablepast.4ThatMei'sAmericanaudiencesbelievedPekingoperato beof"ancient"srcinisconfirmedin numerousreviewsand articles.TheNewYorkTimesdescribedPekingoperaas"anartwith two millenniumsoftradition,"5while The NewRepublic'sreviewread:"Itsinterestingto notetheantiquityof this Chinesetheatre,goingbackalmostthirtycenturiesperhaps... ."6 Infact,whencomparedtomanyof the world'sothergreatmusicaltheatretraditions,such asJapanesenoh,Italianopera,orJavanesewayang,Pekingoperais arelativelynew formwith its birthpopularlytraced

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