Happy Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month!
Wai-Taiwan is/ has always been a “Taiwan only” blog. However, during the past several months, I’ve started to realize how short sighted that is. I’m completely ignoring how Taiwan fits into the bigger picture of “pan Asian” culture.
This month, I have a significantly lighter load (i.e. I’m not working 16 hour days.) So, I’m going to spend all of May really taking advantage of what this month of increased activities and visibility has to offer. I’ll especially try to look at Taiwanese culture (or at least its diaspora to America/ Chicago) through a pan Asian lens.
I’ll be going to events, watching movies, reading books, and talking to people who can help me learn about Taiwan specifically and Asia generally.
Pan Asian Identity
Let me back up for a second. Pan Asian identity is a really tricky subject. There are people who strongly believe in it and there are people who think a “pan Asian mindset” is rubbish.
** The pro arguments typically boil down to – (internal) there are undeniable similarities between lots of Asian cultures; (external) Asians are largely invisible and because others devalue all types of Asian cultural practices, it’s necessary for Asians to come together in a shared identity; and other reasons.
** The anti arguments mostly fall into the “Asia is not one big country” realm. In other words, there are important differences between cultures (and within countries) that should not be ignored. Ignoring these differences can cause harmful stereotyping and misunderstandings.
I also heard an interesting argument once about “Pan-Asianism” as it relates to Taiwanese nationalism. It went something like this: Most Taiwanese are ethnically Chinese, culturally indigenous (to the island), living under a legacy of Japanese rule, and currently importing tons of Korean (and other) pop culture. So, to deny the pan Asian flavor of Taiwan is to deny its authentic diversity. [This statement is completely paraphrased and probably absolutely butchered. But hopefully you get the point.]
As I explore Taiwan through a pan Asian lens, I’d love to know what others think. Do you usually talk about Taiwan by itself? Or do you situate it within what’s going on with Asian politics? Are there topics that make you automatically shift to a “pan Asian” perspective/ a country specific perspective?
And of course, how is everyone celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month?