When Chiang Kai-shek retreated to Taiwan in 1949, he still kept under occupation two archipelagos near China — Kinmen and Matsu — and transformed them into military islands (1949-92). When scholars study these islands, they mostly do so from the perspective of the Mao-Chiang conflict or global geopolitics. These islands are thus considered as the products of the Communist-Nationalist rivalry or confrontations of the Cold War. This paper, instead, aims to analyze this history from the perspective of the island society and culture, in particular, the islanders’ gender relations and gambling habits. I shall start with the period before the army arrived, discuss the population’s experience of militarization during 1949-92, and indicate how gender and gambling culture can shed new light on our understanding of this history.
Lin Wei-ping (Professor, Department of Anthropology, National Taiwan University)
Chair/Discussant: Michael Szonyi (Professor of Chinese History, Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University)