Documenting Environmental Protest: Taiwan's Gongliao Fourth Nuclear Power Plant and the Cultural Politics of Dialogic Artifice

Christopher Lupke
In the wake of Taiwan's lifting of martial law on July 15, 1987, documentary films on a wide variety of subjects have become a popular medium for the expression of political dissent; for the raising of public consciousness with ref crence to such topics as gender equality, authoritarian repression, the humane treatment of animals, the status of minority groups, and the role of elderly. people in society; and for the exposure of environmental damage due to indus trialization. 1 As the editors of
more » ... this volume outline in greater detail in the Intro duction, 1987 was a watershed date for Taiwan, politically speaking, because from then on, the formation of political parties could take place legally, dissent opinion was no longer considered a threat to national security, and detaining, jailing, or "disappearing" people solely on the grounds of their polit ical beliefs ceased to be legaL That said, the date is, from another perspective, somewhat of an arbitrary one. As Denny Roy, Shelley Rigger, Mab Huang, and others have shown, for example, dissenting opinion has long been a part ofTai wan's political and social fabrie. 2 Since the time of the traumatic "birth" of the Republic of China on Taiwan in the latc 19408, and especially with the mas sacre that occurred beginning with the February 28 Incident in 1947, effectively the way for authoritarian rule, the public expression of.dissenting polit ical opinion has enjoyed a tenuous, if stubbornly persistent, existence on the island. But from the late I 940s until 1987, referred to as the "White Terror" era, those who expressed political dissent were subject to extreme persecution. A main component of Taiwan's modern history is the record of political activists, mainly intellectuals, who have sought to challenge the government on a wide range of grounds, only ultimatcly to be subdued or liquidated. This chapter explores the topic of nuclear power in Taiwan as it is featured in the Taiwanese documentary Gongliao. How Are You? (Gongliao. ni hao rna?). This film, a hybrid approach that mixes some techniques from anthropological or ethnographic cinema and some from political documentary, could not have been produced in Taiwan prior to 1987. Nonetheless, the anti-nuclear movement and
doi:10.7939/r3-0cqh-px51 fatcat:rh7pokn5q5cdfc737rna6kp2wi