fulbright Taiwan online journal

fulbright Taiwan online journal

Author: Anru Lee 李安如

Anru Lee 李安如
Anru Lee is Associate Professor of Anthropology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, the City University of New York. She is the author of In the Name of Harmony and Prosperity: Labor and Gender Politics in Taiwan’s Economic Restructuring (SUNY Press 2004) and co-editors of Women in the New Taiwan (ME Sharpe 2004).

The Afterlife of Women Workers – Gender, Space, and Feminist Intervention in Contemporary Taiwan

Kaohsiung is the second largest city in Taiwan. It is also Taiwan’s hub of heavy industry and a world-class port. The Twenty-five Ladies’ Tomb was the collective burial site of female workers who drowned during a ferry accident on their way to work at Kaohsiung’s export processing zones in 1973. Of the seventy plus passengers on board, all twenty-five who died were unmarried young women. Taiwanese culture shuns unmarried female ghosts who have no (husband’s) ancestral hall to rest in peace. This made the tomb a fearsome place. The Kaohsiung Association for the Promotion of Women’s Rights (KAPWR), a major feminist group in Kaohsiung, had for years urged the Kaohsiung City government to rename the tomb to remove the stigma of unmarried female ghost. Feminists wanted the name of the burial site to reflect the productive role of the deceased young women instead. They requested that the local government revamp the tomb site. Their calls, however, were not answered until Kaohsiung was hard hit by Taiwan’s recent deindustrialization. As a part of an effort to reinvent the city’s economy, the Mayor’s Office finally allocated money to clean up the gravesite and make it into a tourist-friendly “Memorial Park for Women

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Research & Reflections

fulbright taiwan online journal