Staging Diaoyutai: Overseas Taiwanese Students and the Spoken Drama Movement in 1970s U.S

Key information

5:00 pm to 6:30 pm
Paul Webley Wing (Senate House)

About this event

Chen Po-Hsi

*Please be aware that this session follows Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) .


In the early 1970s, Japan laid claim to Diaoyutai/Senkaku islands between Taiwan and Okinawa, which triggered the overseas Taiwanese students in the U.S to protest what they saw as the revival of Japanese imperialism. Whilst the Diaoyutai Movement was diplomatic and political in nature, what has often been overlooked is that it was also an art and literary movement. Although many activists went on to become established novelists, the most popular cultural activities amongst overseas students throughout the 1970s were the staging of 'spoken drama' (huaju), a theatrical form introduced to China in the early twentieth century.

Drawing on new findings in overseas Chinese newspapers and magazines, this presentation discusses how these student writers from Taiwan introduced and adapted modern Chinese spoken drama. How did they invoke the anti-imperialist spirit of the May Fourth and reimagine contemporary socialist China through spoken drama? How did student activists use theatre to mobilise other students? And how did these plays also witness the decline of the Diaoyutai campaign?

Speaker's Biography

Po-hsi Chen is Post-Doctoral Fellow in Taiwan Studies at the University of Cambridge. Prior to joining Cambridge, he was Postdoctoral Researcher at the Research Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences in Taipei. He obtained his Ph.D degree in East Asian Languages and Literatures from Yale University.His research interests include Taiwanese literature, global leftism, and affect studies. His articles are available in Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, Chinese Literature Today, and East Asian Journal of Popular Culture.

Organiser: Centre of Taiwan Studies

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