A series of discussions on the legacy of martial law and authoritarianism are to be held at the Taipei International Book Exhibition this month, featuring findings and analysis by the Transitional Justice Commission.
The commission and publisher Book Republic organized the series, entitled “Escaping the Nation’s Labyrinth of Memory: What Authoritarian Symbols and Records Can Tell Us,” to help people navigate narratives through textual analysis and comparisons with other nations.
The four-day series is to begin on Thursday next week with a discussion between commission Chairwoman Yang Tsui (楊翠), Polish-language translator Lin Wei-yun (林蔚昀), and Polish author and artist Pawel Gorecki comparing the histories of authoritarianism and public space in Taiwan and Poland.
Photo courtesy of Transitional Justice Commission
The second panel on Friday next week would feature Su Ching-hsuan (蘇慶軒), a postdoctoral fellow at Academia Sinica’s Institute of Taiwan History, and author Hu Shu-wen (胡淑雯) discussing biases inherent in records from authoritarian sources.
The remaining five lectures by authors and researchers would investigate topics ranging from informers and state violence, to pathologized suffering in Brazil and the lingering embodiment of past evils.
In its announcement of the series on Thursday last week, the commission said that “martial law” and “white terror” are not abstract concepts, as many who lived through them are alive today, each with their own story.
With the release of documents, Taiwanese have a means to gradually break free from this “labyrinth of memory,” but these records must be interpreted with knowledge of their biases and limitations, the commission said.
It chose to share these stories with authors and readers in the hope that exploring and escaping the maze would enable Taiwanese to clarify their collective history and bring more richness to future writing, it said.
“What can we learn today through the hindsight of history?” it asked.
The Taipei International Book Exhibition opens on Tuesday next week and runs through Sunday next week at Hall 1 of the Taipei World Trade Center in Xinyi District (信義).
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