ARTICULATING EAST ASIA
: INTER-ASIAN PACKAGING OF TAIWANESE IDOL DRAMA IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy

Abstract

This thesis explores the inter-Asian operations of Taiwanese “idol drama” – star-centred TV drama set in the twenty-first-century Taiwan, targeting female audiences. It examines how the industry has developed international, multilateral co-operation relationships after the neo-liberal deregulation in its domestic market. Theoretically, it accounts for the cultural politics (of regional and Taiwanese representation) in the production aspect by examining different regional production strategies in the industry.

I propose to view idol drama as a medium subject to three dominant, pedagogical and oppressive value systems (post-colonial nationalist, patriarchal, and capitalist/commercial) in Taiwan and other East Asian countries. The scattered dominant value systems, which resemble, yet contradict each other in different aspects, form the context where idol drama operates. To analyse these operations and their imaginations, I modify Stuart Hall’s concept of (mediated) articulation into the Taiwanese context. I contextualise idol drama from the perspective of Taiwan’s political economy and its TV market, especially political democratisation, yet with polemic contestation of Sino-centrism and Taiwan-centrism, media deregulation within a fragmented domestic market in a time of globalisation. Regionalised viewing of TV drama in East Asian markets will also be assessed.

The initial section looks into how different Taiwanese idol drama producers “package” different East Asian elements to appeal to both domestic and international markets. The second part analyses four inter-Asian packaging strategies in terms of their struggles for legitimacy and contestations surrounding the productions. The last part examines the mediated articulations of Taiwanese subjectivity with the patriarchal nationalist forces of its stronger neighbours in East Asia. Different articulations about Taiwanese identity, with social and gender values in the forefront and national relations in the background, have been mediated in this inter-Asian packaging to form a multi-faceted system of images that together represent the Taiwanese economic and cultural relations with other East Asian countries.
Date of Award2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorHye-Kyung Lee (Supervisor)

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