SOAS University of London

Centre of Taiwan Studies

Speaking on Behalf of the Masculine State: Women Broadcasters and Radio Hosts in the Psychological Warfare across the Taiwan Strait during the Cold War

Dr Isabelle Cheng

Date: 30 October 2019Time: 7:00 PM

Finishes: 30 October 2019Time: 9:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: RG01

Type of Event: Talk

Isabelle 2


Women have a complicated relationship with the state during the war when women’s physical, care and emotional labour is moblised by the state for war efforts. During the Cold War era, women aided in housework by modern appliances, in contrast to women of strong physiques working in the field, factory or laboratory, were symbolised as the antagonism between capitalism and socialism. However, how women’s femininity is co-opted by the masculine state for psychological warfare is less understood.

Isabelle 3

Using women broadcasters and radio hosts as a case study and benefiting from interview results, this paper adopts the concept of ‘soundscape’ for analysing the dynamic relationship between their voices and the geo-ideological space constructed by their voices. Broadcasting the script authorised by the state, their feminine voices, behind loudspeakers or on radio, became the sovereign voices of the masculine state for indoctrinating its citizens as well as deceiving its enemy and enticing the enemy’s defection or encouraging uprising. As invisible munitions for psychological warfare, the transmission of their voices by sound waves not only reified the antagonistic ideologies across the Taiwan Strait but also pushed forward the ideological boundary as far as the sound waves traveled into the Chinese mainland. Whilst the political messages delivered by their voices demarcated a geo-ideological soundscape, the femininity of their voices also became a source of company for their listeners. The experiences of women broadcasters and radio hosts offer fresh insights into the complexity of the relationship between women and war. 

Isabelle 1

Speaker Biography

Isabelle Cheng is Senior Lecturer in East Asian and International Development Studies at the University of Portsmouth. Taking Taiwan as a case study, her research focuses on migration in East Asia and the Cold War in Taiwan. For the former, her research focuses on multiculturalism, statelessness, sovereignty, political participation and, lately, migrant workers’ pregnancy. For the latter, she concentrates on the politicisation of death and economic mobilisation for the war of retaking China, as well as the use of women broadcasters for conducting psychological warfare. She is a Research Associate of the Centre for Taiwan Studies of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. She serves as the Secretary-General of the European Association of Taiwan Studies (2018-2020).

* All SOAS CTS events are free and open to members of the public without prior registration. You simply need to sign in at reception on the day and they will give you a guest pass and direct you to the venue.

Organiser: SOAS Centre of Taiwan Studies

Contact email: