June 4th, 2010. Attended wonderful conference in Santa Barbara, CA, “2010 International Conference on Taiwan Studies. Taiwan Under Japanese Rule: Cultural Translation and Modernity.” Great panels and good fun drinking wine with friends new and old. Here’s my abstract and title:
The “Modern Marco Polo” Visits a Colonial Police State: Harrison Forman and Government Public Relations in Japanese Ruled Taiwan
On April 1, 1938, the photo journalist and travelogue writer Harrison Forman began a short tour of Taiwan. Only a few photographs from Forman’s excursion were published, as part of his 1940 Horizon Hunter: The Adventures of a Modern Marco Polo. Recently, however, over sixty additional photo negatives from this 1938 visit have been made available to researchers. Like the published photos, a great majority of Forman’s unpublished photographs were of Taiwan Indigenous Peoples. By 1938, wrote Forman, Taiwan had become a police state ruled by suspicion, secrecy, and fear. Nonetheless, the intrusive colonial state encouraged the production and dissemination of photographs of a certain type. This paper analyzes Forman’s unpublished travel notes and photographs, along with those of contemporary Western visitors to Taiwan, to ask why the Indigenous Territories, which had symbolized Japan’s shortcomings as a colonizer from the 1900s through the 1920s, had become the Government General’s preferred window upon the colony in the late 1930s.