Authoritarianism in the Living Room: Everyday Disciplines, Senses, and Morality in Taiwan’s Military Villages

Elisa Tamburo


With the nationalist government – Kuomintang (KMT) – retreating from mainland China in 1949, some 600,000 military personnel relocated to Taiwan. The military seized former Japanese colonial properties and built its own settlements, establishing temporary military dependents’ villages called juancun (眷村). When the prospect of counter-attacking the mainland vanished, the KMT had to face the reality of settling permanently in Taiwan. How, then, did the KMT’s authoritarian power enter the everyday lives of its own support group? In this article I will focus on the coercive elements of KMT authoritarianism, which permeated these military villages in Taiwan. I will look at the coercive mechanisms through the analytical lens of Foucauldian discipline. I argue that disciplinary techniques such as surveillance, disciplining of the body and the senses, as well as the creation of morality regimes played an important role in the cooptation of village residents into KMT authoritarianism by normalising and naturalising it.

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