The following is an abstract of a paper presented by Ms. Yun Fan at the February 28 Memorial Conference in San Diego sponsored by the WUFI-US during February 20 - 23, 1997.

Reconcilliation and Commemoration
---Taiwanese Identity under the Divided Collective Memory

Fan, Yun ( Ph.D. student, sociology, Yale Univ.)


Reconciliation and commemoration, two social processes that were diametrically opposed in the aftermath of the WWII in Taiwan, now eventually converged upon a shared, if disguised, current ethnic politics.

Around the first presidential election in Taiwan in March 1996, the Democratic Progressive Party proposed the "great reconciliation". Recently, there has been the movement for the commemoration and establishment of the February 28 monument. The purpose of this paper is to use the these two cases to analyze the gap between the native Taiwanese and the new Taiwanese (the so called "mainlander" Taiwanese) in their historic viewpoint and collective memory and to further attempt to search for a solution.

The author believes that the great reconciliation as proposed by the DPP involves only the political agenda, yet misses the social agenda which is the most essential element of reconciliation. Reconciliation should be neither compromise nor the negotiated distribution of power. Reconciliation is the attainment of a mutual understanding of the past sadness and sufferings after the clarification of justice and righteousness. We remember not as individuals but as members of ethnic and national communities. Although the native and mainlander Taiwanese both claim to share the same future, they have completely different and even conflicting history and collective memory. In fact that all Taiwanese people share the same fate on this island has already been existing now. Yet, as a nation, these people have not been able to share the same pride and regret of the past. Never have they reached a consensus concerning what occurred in the past on this land. There is a gap or even antagonism between them in the memory of the history. Therefore, the author suggests that to resolve the conflicting memories of the history is not to oppose the establishment of national identity, nor to avoid talking about the sorrow of the past. Rather, we should proactively create a new pluralistically constructed Taiwanese historical narrative.

The author believes that collective memory is central to the creation and perpetuation of nations. Therefore, she propose that we consider the processes of commemoration as a beginning, as an invitation to national dialogues about the histories we individually remember and the futures we collective envision. she will further discuss the possibility of reaching a pluralistic historical interpretation of the February 28 massacare, the greatest gap in their collective memories between these two groups. To facilitate a dialogue between the survivors and the dead as well as among those with different memories of the history, the possibility of using the counter-monument as a form of commemoration will be proposed and discussed in the last part of the paper. Perhaps, through such a means of reconstructing the history and collective memory, a new nation of common ground can be built.
The February 28 Holocaust