Seeds and Anti-Essentialism:
An Analysis of Kou Song Fen’s Early Works
Wei, Wei Lee
The predominate political literature of the 1980’s was characterized by a discussion of national identity and the conflicts associated with the popular political stands of the era. However, Guo Song Fen, as a representative author of the political literature of this time, differs greatly in theory and focus on the issue of national identity. Until now, Guo Song Fen’s works have been analyzed to imply that he ascribed to either one of the schools of national identity. However, this paper argues that it is exactly this characteristic of ambiguity that acts as a strategy to respond to the political changes and confusion concerning national identity at that time.
Guo Song Fen’s defining themes can be understood by his belief that identity is a kind of social construction and thereby is more appropriately understood through anti-essentialism. Specifically, in terms of the Taiwanese experience of identity, Guo Song Fen believed that the repeated experience of being a colonized people ruled by several different regimes, created a conflicted identity of self in which the Taiwanese could not reconcile the contradictory elements of their social history. Furthermore, because of Guo Song Fen’s forced immigration to the United States, his experience of Diaspora further complicated his relationship with identity.
The aforementioned themes can be seen in Guo Song Fen’s earliest works and later became the defining characteristic of Guo’s literature. As the political literature of the 1980’s either chose to ascribe to the belief in a conclusive identity, or chose to take an ironic or satiric perspective on the matter, Guo Song Fen’s literature lies outside of these two opposing perspectives. Instead, his works emphasized the importance of identity and the anti-essentialist nature of the self.
Keywords: political literature, Guo Song Fen, national identity