A Neighborhood Named “River of Blood”

My dad couldn't remember much about his old neighborhood
Jakarta: view from a rusty steel bridge with vivid yellow painted concrete walls. Beneath in the distance, a man on a narrow pontoon bridge holding a spear or net
images courtesy of the author

I’m not terribly interested in retracing my heritage. Though I grew up mostly in the U.S, I’m currently living in Taiwan, immersed in Taiwanese civil society activism, and writing on Taiwanese politics. I prefer to think of myself as just someone in the here and now. 

Maybe I’m reacting against the Chinese nationalists I’m always fighting with (whether of the western tankie, diaspora tankie, Taiwanese pro-unification left, or “little pink” variety) who insist that Taiwan’s contemporary agency means nothing in the face of five thousand years of blood ties. Taiwan’s original inhabitants are indigenous, and many more recent migrants come from Southeast Asia, origins that come with complex histories of their own. In any case, many Taiwanese—including those who, like me, are descended from Chinese immigrants to Taiwan—consider identity and self-determination to be a choice rightly grounded in the present, rather than historical abstraction.

It’s a paywall, but a small one

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