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Do Waves Have Memories?

Human and Ocean Issues in Taiwan Indigenous Writer Syaman Rapongan’s Writing1
Gwennaël Gaffric

Résumés

Syaman Rapongan夏曼.藍波安, né en 1957 sur l’île des Orchidées (Pongso no Tao en langue tao, Lanyu en chinois), est un écrivain qui revendique son appartenance au groupe aborigène des Tao. Auteur de nombreux essais, romans et légendes, son œuvre est souvent considérée par le champ littéraire à Taiwan comme un canon de la « littérature aborigène » (原住民文學 yuanzhumin wenxue).

Baptisé par la critique d’ « écrivain de l ‘océan » (海洋作家 haiyang zuojia), ses écrits sont ainsi marqués par des thèmes récurrents la vie quotidienne des Tao et leurs pratiques sociales et religieuses, dans lesquelles l’océan tient effectivement une place majeure. Ses considérations littéraires sont autant de réflexions sur les rapports ethniques et/ou politiques entretenus entre la population Han de Taiwan et les Tao, mais aussi entre les Tao et d’autres peuples austronésiens du Pacifique. Le monde « naturel » et les problèmes environnementaux se retrouvent par ailleurs souvent au centre de ses textes.
Cet article s’attardera précisément sur l’appropriation de la thématique environnementale dans l’écriture de Syaman Rapongan, principalement dans ses recueils d’essais Sentiments profonds par une mer froide (冷海情深 Lenghai Qingshen, 1997) La mémoire des vagues (海浪的記憶 Hailang de jiyi, 2002) et Le visage du navigateur (航海家的臉 Hanghai jia de lian, 2007). Cette interrogation nous amènera à effectuer une analyse sur le primitivisme et l’(éco)-cosmopolitisme auquel fait appel Rapongan dans son écriture, et la manière dont il traite de questions telles que la surpêche ou le stockage des déchets nucléaires sur l’île des Orchidée, qu’il considère comme des dégradations tout aussi environnementales que culturelles/cosmologiques.
À la lumière, des théories écocritiques et de la justice environnementale, mon ambition sera de mettre en relief les interconnections entre problématiques humaines et environnementales dans les écrits océaniques de Syaman Rapongan et de comprendre comme son écriture du paysage passé d’un appel à une restauration écologique localisée à une approche pus cosmopolite, initiant ainsi un processus de déterritorialisation. Dans cette étude, j’essaierai enfin de mettre en perspective l’approche de Rapongan avec celle d’autres auteurs des « archipels », dans leur recherche d’un modèle alternatif d’habiter le monde.

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  • 1 Special thanks to Chang Ti-han, Jon Solomon and Carsten Storm for their precious advices during the (...)

Foam of the city, foam on the wave, unperceived. Either on the wave or in the city, foam is fragile. It waits for the moment when it will hit the shore, and so far, it strives to last on the peak. And as for the foam conveyer, what can he do in his turn, except try to last? Without even the confrontation on the shore is certain. Only escorted, between two breaths, by the voice of those who, here, are close and abroad. Knowing then that it is given to him, and for all reasons, to be at the same time the same and the other, the son and the stranger. Édouard Glissant, Sun of Consciousness (1956).

Syaman Rapongan’s quest for environmental justice

  • 2 Ramachandra Guha, “Radical Environmentalism and Wilderness Preservation : A Third World Critique”, (...)
  • 3 In The Environmental Justice Reader: Politics, Poetics, and Pedagogy, the editors of the book defin (...)
  • 4 Ursula K. Heise, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Ecocriticism”, PLMA, vol. 2, N° 121, 2006, p. 510.

1Under the cultural hegemony of American environmentalism, for a long time environmental studies have been limited to simple questions of “wilderness,” “nature” or pollution problems2. A similar phenomenon can be noted in the realm of environmental literary criticism. Environmentalist discourses and movements are often confined to the so-called “developed countries” (mainly United States) and neglect issues related to human populations, as destructions of singular social practices or cultural imaginaries. However, since the end of 1990’s, environmental-justice3 movements and criticism increasingly influenced literary and political fields “by drawing attention to social and racial inequalities in both access to natural resources and exposure to technological and ecological risk”4.

2The consequences of the environmental violence inflicted by the colonial, nationalist or capitalist powers in modern history were not only environmental destruction and changes, but also disasters for the living species, human or not, living in these environments. Ecological problems are not only matters that are stemmed from the development of urban spaces and new technology, but they are also problems that are caused by the geo-anthropological organization under the colonial/nationalist/capitalist rule. Indeed, environmental damage, species extinction, confiscation of lands, prohibition of hunting or fishing and the storage of nuclear waste are forms of memorial and cultural degradation, which lead to the disappearance of social practices.

3For numerous authors who claim to belong to oppressed peoples, such as Ken Saro-Wiwa (Nigerian writer and activist), Linda Hogan (Amerindian women writer), Wangari Muta Maathai (Kenyan women writer and activist), Patrick Chamoiseau (writer and thinker from Martinique), Patricia Grace(Maori writer from New Zealand) and so many others, environmental claims cannot be considered as being separate from human issues. In the case of Taiwan, and employing the words of some indigenous Formosan writers, environmental destruction caused ​​by the successive governing of the archipelago are not entirely unrelated to a racist ideology.5 Their discourses and practices of resistance, even those that are fictive, are rooted in a quest for an environmental justice which is inseparable from social justice. They consider that the destruction of a living environment and the discrimination against classes, “races” and species as being two sides of the same coin. Moreover, after the sudden change of a habitat and their practices, these degradations not only cause indigenous writers social and political indignations, but they also raise anxiety about their metaphysical and cosmological nature. In sum, in environmental justice literature how the environment is associated with (or disassociated from) its inhabitants and their daily life hold more interest than the natural specificities and beauties of a biotope.

4In this article, I shall then focus on the scriptural way Syaman Rapongan 夏曼.藍波安 attempts to respond to these environmental destructions and threats, and how his writing becomes an ambivalent technology of resistance. I will define two main pathways in his work that roughly correspond to the evolution of his writing from his own life experiences: one trend I will call primitivism, and the other, cosmopolitanism. Here, I will try to show the turmoil of these trajectories, which are sometimes not so contradictory.

  • 6 Sanwen is a kind of Chinese literary genre that is an intersection between literary essays and pros (...)
  • 7 Furthermore, as we shall see, many critics use the alleged non-fictionality of the literary essay t (...)

5I will primarily rely on three of his collections of sanwen 散文6: Lenghai qingshen 冷海情深 [Cold Sea, Deep Feelings] (1997), Hailang de jiyi 海浪的記憶 [Memories of the Waves] (2002) and Hanghaijia de lian 航海家臉 [The Face of the Navigator] (2007), but I will not entirely exclude Syaman Rapongan’s novels in my analysis, in particular Heise de chibang 黑色的翅膀 [Black Wings] (1999) and Tiankong de yanjing 天空的眼睛 [The Eyes of the Sky] (2012). It would be wrong to suggest that we could not conduct an analysis because the two literary genres are radically different, since the borders of fictionality in Syaman Rapongan’s writings are never accurate, and especially given that in the two genres the issues addressed and the treatments of these issues are often very close7.

Furrows of the Past Waves

An oceanic writer in the trap of ethnicity

  • 8 The Tao are a Taiwanese aboriginal people. They are linguistically considered as Austronesian, but (...)
  • 9 For more than 30 years, Taipower (Taidian gongsi 台電公司) has stored low-level radioactive waste drums (...)

6Born in 1957 on the Orchid Island (蘭嶼 Lanyu in Chinese, Pongso no Tao in Tao language8), Syaman Rapongan was among the first inhabitants of the Orchid Island who went to study at the university in “mainland Taiwan.” After graduation, he held various small jobs in Taipei, including that of taxi driver. Rapongan began to actively participate in several aboriginal liberation movements, the most significant of which was the Tao-led protest against the storage of nuclear waste on the Orchid Island.9 He returned to Orchid Island in 1989, with a desire to “re-learn” his people’s culture. In 1999, he once again studied in Taiwan, pursuing a Masters degree in Anthropology at Tsinghua University. His thesis was on Tao cultural practices of the ocean. Rapongan now lives on the Orchid Island, and is the author of seven books: novels, essays, a collection of myths, etc... His Chinese writing is frequently marked by employing additional words, phrases and structures in Tao language.

7First, what is important in “indigenous writing” is the position of the writer. Unlike with anthropological analysis, in literary textual study (and this is particularly true for sanwen), the “indigenous” person has a role of the author (a writing subjectivity) and not of the written object. In this article, I will thus focus on how Rapongan’s writing on the environment affects (or is affected by), and disturbs (or is disturbed by) his thoughts on identity and the processes of constructing subjectivity.

  • 10 In an article published in 2012, Lin Chao-li 林肇豊, outlines the place Rapongan holds in Taiwanese li (...)
  • 11 See Balibar and Wallerstein ‘s concept of “fictive ethnicity” : Étienne Balibar and Immanuel Waller (...)
  • 12 Chiu Kuei-fen, “The Production of Indigeneity : Contemporary Indigenous Literature in Taiwan and Cr (...)

8Regarded as one of the major Taiwanese aboriginal writers, Rapongan’s work often provokes passionate debate in Taiwanese literary criticism circles.10 Firstly, in many studies Rapongan is often classed as an “aboriginal” or a “Tao” writer. Analysis of his work thus raises the question of the paradigms of “ethnicity,” whose taxonomy is based on “otherness”. The notion of otherness is constructed on the basis of linguistic, cultural or anthropological difference.11 However, if we were to consider Syaman Rapongan’s writings solely as “indigenous” or “Tao” writings, we would risk falling into the trap of classing him as a biologically determined object of knowledge only, and associations of cognitive capitalism and being in line with national authorities ‘ division of populations. Rapongan has often been read by critics in terms of “ethnicity” and through the prism (in some degree) of biological difference: the prism of being a Tao native author. This reading however, offers different implications, nominally when we address the study of environmental issues in literature. Firstly, it tends to deny Rapongan’s subjectivity, since it emphasizes the collective dimension of his writing (the people ‘s way of perceiving a “collective” environment rather than an individual feeling of the environment). Secondly, it does not allow for critics or even Rapongan himself to deny the logic of “I speak for my people” or “my people speaks through me.” It is claimed that no academic study on Syaman Rapongan would not link his writing to his “ethnic status”, thereby neglecting his subjective approach. Moreover, this interpretation tends to forget that his local investigations are pertinent is precisely because he has been working on both inside and outside of the Tao society. As Taiwanese academic Chiu Kuei-fen shows, one of the reasons why Syaman is celebrated as an important indigenous writer is mainly because his writing incorporates a lot of ethnographical details about his tribal culture. To be recognized as an aboriginal writer and to claim that title, an indigenous writer is expected to demonstrate his mastery of tribal knowledge in his works12. One remembers what Gayatri Spivak once asked: “can the subaltern speak?” The question that is raised here is “who can speak for the subaltern?” And perhaps more importantly, “what can the subaltern speak about?”

  • 13 “The name ‘Yami ‘ first appeared in a report written by a Japanese scholar, Torii Ryuzo, after he p (...)
  • 14 Nevertheless, the fact that Syaman Rapongan strives to return to his Tao roots and to become, a “re (...)

9Although it may appear anecdotal, there is a striking example of the above in the first two collections of essays (in Cold Sea, Deep Feelings and Memories of the Waves): Rapongan mostly used the term “Yami” (雅美 yamei) to describe his community or himself. In The Face of the Navigator, however, he substitutes this term for “Tao” (達悟 dawu).13 Despite this (new) choice of the term “Tao” to designate his community, which could be interpreted as a political act, it is interesting to note that Rapongan continues to employ it as an “ethnical indicator”. This is instead of using it in its primary sense as “person” or “people” in the Tao language, which carries no implication of biological otherness. For the Han critics, this once again reveals Rapongan’s inability to get out of the ethnic taxonomy of the modern nation-state14.

  • 15 Syaman Rapongan, Lenghai qingshen 冷海情深, Taipei : Lianhe wenxue, p. 64 ; 213.
  • 16 Han 漢 people (also called “Chinese” people) is the Taiwan main ethnic group, even ifit is more hete (...)

10In his early essays, Rapongan tends to emphasize the collective aspect of his writings. Ultimately, this sees him following the same logic as those who see him as a writer standing, speaking and acting “for his people” and in doing so neglecting his subjective experiences. In Cold Sea, Deep Feelings and Memories of Waves, Syaman Rapongan describes his return to Orchid Island as an attempt to relearn how to be an “authentic Tao man” (真正的達悟男人 zhenzheng de dawu nanren)15, afraid that his name could be “polluted” (污名 wuming) by the Han people16.In both collections, Syaman Rapongan establishes a historical continuity between traditional knowledge and contemporary practices of the people to which he claims to belong. Here is what he writes about his father, his main mentor:

  • 17 Syaman Rapongan, 1997, p. 99.

父親是位非常傳統的人,我的意思是說,他對於我們島上的生物生態、文化生態的認知是直接承繼祖先在島上千年來累積的生存知識。17

[My father is a very traditional man. By this, I mean that he directly inherited his biological and cultural ecological perceptions from the knowledge accumulated by our ancestors over a thousand years on this island.]

  • 18 Jean-Loup Amselle, Rétrovolutions : Essais sur les primitivismes contemporains.Paris : Stock, 2010, (...)

11In his study on contemporary primitivisms, Jean-Loup Amselle warns against the illusion of historical linearity, or the attempt to link a mythicized exotic past to present times, even for those who claim to be the descendants of a given “imagined” local tradition. Anthropology – and cultural studies itself – are sometimes complicit when these disciplines set a society in “a perpetual ethnographic present”.18

12From here stems the first answer that Syaman Rapongan offers against the threats to the living environment: highlighting the cultural, social and ritual specificities his people maintain with the environment (especially the ocean) and the animals. He presents them as both traditional and a-historicized and reading between the lines of his essays, Rapongan offers a kind of eco-friendly restoration of a cosmology on the verge of extinction.

Is an ecological restoration possible?

  • 19 Christopher Norden, “Ecological Restoration and the Evolution of Postcolonial National Identity in (...)
  • 20 “Rather, restoration involves a relearning-indeed a renarrativizing-of traditional ecologies of hum (...)

13In a study about indigenous literature in Australia and New Zealand, Christopher Norden points out that it is represented by indigenous novelists, the twinned process of cultural and environmental recovery includes the reclaiming of traditional homelands; a return to a traditional, sustainable, and locally constituted economic base; and the reuniting of scattered or diasporic families, clans, and tribes.”19 As we observed, the same remark could be made about Syaman Rapongan’s works, and more generally, about indigenous literature in Taiwan. Thus, in a number of his works, in addition to the radical critique of environmental destruction, he emphasizes the “traditional ecological knowledge” of the people with whom he claims to be connected. It is therefore common to observe a dualistic opposition between modern scientific rationality on the one hand and mythical ancestral knowledge on the other. This dualistic opposition poses the problem of both a luring restoration of a so-called ancestral past. In many of his works, Rapongan attempts to reaffirm the ritual bonds of interdependence between the individual, community and the natural world (the “landscape” and its inhabitants)20, where he sees ecological redemption (initially local), as opposed to an Han anthropocentric colonial culture.

14In his writings, Syaman Rapongan often outlines the Tao social practices and cosmological universe. These aspects are often presented as “primitive” or “pristine” (原始 yuanshi or 原初 yuanchu) elements and biologically inherited from his ancestors:

  • 21 Syaman Rapongan, 1997, p. 213.

我想著這幾年孤伶伶的學習潛水射魚學習成為真正的達悟男人養家餬口的生存技能嘗試祖先用原始的體能與大海搏鬥的生活經驗孕育自信心。21

  • 22 English translation is Huang Hsin-ya’s : Huang Hsinya, “Representing Indigenous Bodies in Epeli Hau (...)

[As I recall, for the last several years, I learned to dive and spearfish alone, trying to be a real Tao man to have the skills to support my family and to foster my self-confidence from the life experience of struggling with the ocean with the primitive physical strength of my ancestors.]22

  • 23 Chiu Kuei-fen, “‘Yuanzhi yuanwei’ de wenhua keti”, 2009.
  • 24 Syaman Rapongan, Tiankong de yanjing天空的眼睛, Taipei : Lianjing, 2012, p. 70.

15However, beyond the construction of what Chiu Kuei-fen calls an “original taste and flavor”(原汁原味 yuanzhi yuanwei) appears in Rapongan’s works23: his call for an alternative cosmology, even if it has the danger of essentializing cultural identities, involves environmental issues on Orchid Island to the Han “colonial ideology”:24

  • 25 Syaman Rapongan, Hanghaijia de lian航海家的臉, Taipei : INK, 2007, p. 197.

五十多年來我們被披上中華民國公民外衣之後我們的族人與生存環境便籠罩在人為蓄意營造的無限輻射的恐懼中忍受著漢民族中心主義的歧視與次等國民的待遇。25

[During fifty years, we have been dressed on the ROC citizen’s coats. Our people and our living environment have been enveloped in the fear of deliberate artificial endless radiations, and have endured Han ethnocentrism, as well as the discrimination to be second-class citizens.]

  • 26 Syaman Rapongan, 2007, p. 177-180 ; 2012, p. 196.
  • 27 Syaman Rapongan, 2007, p. 169-171.

16Moreover, Rapongan’s environmental concerns are more focused on ideological issues, even civilizational ones26, than on concrete phenomena. For example, Rapongan, who regularly makes public stands against Taipower’s policy on the island, ultimately makes little comment on this issue in his literary works, preferring to focus his criticism on other aspects, such as education, relationships with the ocean or ideologies of progress or money. At least as frequently mentioned as the issue of storage conditions of radioactive waste is the pollution of the living space, a pollution which is not expressed in terms of air or material pollution, but instead as new architecture constructions (both private and public). For instance, the title of one of his essays is “The progressive disappearance of the right to watch the sea” (逐漸消失的望海視野權 Zhujian xiaoshi de wanghai shiye quan).27

  • 28 What Descola calls an animist ontology design the conception for which the social attributes of non (...)

17For Rapongan, highlighting an animist ontological scheme (in Philippe Descola’s terms)28 is at the same time intended to fight against Han anthropocentrism and to introduce a “new” (but still old) way of interacting with the so-called “natural world”:

  • 29 Syaman Rapongan, 1997, p. 129.

「樹是山的孩子船是海的孫子大自然的一切生物都有靈魂你不祝福這些大自然的神祇你就不是這個島上有生命的一分子……29

[“The tree is the child of the mountain, the boat is the grand-son of the sea. All the living things of nature have a spirit, if you do not give thanks to the divinities of nature, you won ‘t be a living member of this island…”]

  • 30 Syaman Rapongan, 1997, p. 129.

與其說父執輩們敬畏海洋的信仰不如說是他們尊重大自然一切有生命的動植物的博愛精神30

[Rather than saying that they revere the ocean, it would be more correct to say that my fathers have respect for the spirit of love of all animals and plants living in nature.]

  • 31 Syaman Rapongan, Hailang de jiyi海浪的記憶, Taipei : Lianhe wenxue, 2002, p. 225.

父親說:「[...] 樹就像人一樣有靈魂,凡有靈魂這就是有生命的,尊敬樹是我們這些住在小島上的人應有的習俗。」31

  • 32 Even if the meanings of these sentences may appear very clear, one should not forget that they must (...)

[My father said: “Trees, like people, have a spirit, and what have a spirit, then have a life. Respect for trees is a custom we must follow on this island”.]32

18Ten years later, however, in The Face of the Navigator, Rapongan seems more aware of the contemporaneity of ecological crisis and debates. Still, he does not completely do away with the illusion of historical continuity between ancient and contemporary practices:

  • 33 Syaman Rapongan, 2007, p. 177.

魚類在水世界有他們生存的自然法則達悟人以原始的認知以文化吃魚的次序與方法進而建構其部落民族的海洋文化 [...] 被學者專家說是最有「生態環保」概念的民族說穿了我們其實根本沒有『生態環保』的觀念但深植於我們日常行為的即是實踐從生態環境裡『知足』的哲理當然這是從『簡單』的社會組織角度去解釋。達悟人依據祖先流傳下來與島嶼環境共生的經驗知識,在當今高度文明的現代社會,確實提供最佳的「生態環保」觀念。33

  • 34 This aspect is an extremely recurring element in Rapongan’s works, and is probably the element that (...)

[In the water world, fishes have their own natural laws. Using their primitive knowledge, the Tao communities have built their oceanic culture on the base of the order and the methods of their fish-eating culture34 […] Experts said that Tao people have be the most understanding “ecological protection” concept, but to put it bluntly, we have in fact no concept such as “ecological protection”, but a philosophy of “contentment” in environmental resources that has been deeply entrenched in our daily behaviors. Of course, this is explained from a “simple” social organization perspective. Tao people rely on the empirical knowledge of symbiosis with the insular environment inherited from their ancestors. In today’s highly civilized modern society, it provides the best sense of “ecological protection”.]

  • 35 Syaman Rapongan, 2007, p. 192.

達悟人的泛靈信仰,儀式文化,其宗旨即是人文與自然生態均衡豐腴的觀念。35

[The purpose of Tao people’s animistic beliefs and ritual culture is the idea of a balance between humanities and their natural environment.]

  • 36 For the concept of “archipelagic thought” (“pensée archipélique”), see for instance Édouard Glissan (...)

19Even this idea is expressed in terms of traditional practices; this extension of ecological consciousness for communities in different regions and to non-human beings is inscribed in the hope of opening up new relationships with the world. Rapongan has high hopes for the environment and new alternatives modes of coexistence. Reproaching Han’s continental anthropocentrism, he introduces a kind of archipelagic thought. This thought is more uncertain and transnational and identities are more relational than definitively rooted36, as we will see in the next section.

Archipelagic becomings

Nomadic bodies

  • 37 Walter D. Mignolo, “Globalization, Civilization Process and the Relocation of Languages and Culture (...)

20As expressed above, the primitive is also the place of the “simple”, of the “local”, or as Walter D. Mignolo puts it: “the ‘vacant land’ in terms of the economy, and the ‘empty space’ of thinking, theory, and intellectual production.”37As a first step, Rapongan’s goal is to fill this intellectual void by introducing what he considers to be a more ecological way of living and thinking. And yet when it is presented as a pristine and traditional cosmology on the verge of being lost, the indigenous Tao culture still continues to serve the capitalist enclosure that considered it as a local exotic cosmology, which is practical for a small place and a small community. Rampongan’s departure in 1999 to Taiwan (where he studied at the Anthropology department in Tsinghua Institute) gave him the opportunity to take a step back and to look back on Tao cultural practices. In 2003, Rapongan submitted his Masters thesis entitled “The Original Fertile Island – Tao Oceanic Knowledge and Culture” (原初豐腴的島嶼達悟民族的海洋知識與文化 Yuanchu fengyu de daoyu – dawu minzu de haiyang zhishi yu wenhua). In an essay written in 2007, he reflected on his beginnings in anthropology, admitting that at the time he felt some distance from his “own culture”:

  • 38 Syaman Rapongan, 2007, p. 180.

原來對人類學模糊的興趣在初步進入此領域後更加的朦朧身為原住民自己研究探索自己的母體文化一種奇怪的疏離感常常湧上心海眼前所見得以切彷彿不再「正常」、「自然」。38

[My interest in anthropology was originally very opaque, but it became even mistier when I joined the discipline. To be an indigenous studying his own native culture, a strange feeling of distance invaded my heart, and what I was seeing before my eyes had no longer anything “normal” or “natural”.]

  • 39 Syaman Rapongan, 2007, p. 8.
  • 40 Syaman Rapongan, 2007, p. 9.

21The preface of The Face of the Navigator is eminently indicative of Rapongan’s change in his approaches. Here, he writes about his “return” (回歸 huigui) to what he once considered his home culture. In this preface, entitled “The nomadic body” (游牧的身體 Youmu de shenti), Rapongan raises the question of what he is trying to look for (我「尋找」什麼? wo zai xunzhao shenme?) and of the possibility of finding it39. As his motivation led him into searching for an ancestral past, Rapongan concludes that one should be conscious that this search is an ever-changing process; and the “seek and return”: a “never ending song of blues”40.

  • 41 Chiu Kuei-fen, “The Production of Indigeneity”, 2009, p. 7.

22Rapongan’s nomadism can be understood through many different aspects. First, a symbolic aspect: Rapongan “travels” constantly between his mother tongue and Chinese, or between his own local tradition and the global modernity. In other words, instead of being a spokesman, he becomes more like a “translator” (翻譯者 fanyizhe).41One could as well understand this nomadism as another way to escape from the “otherness” which he experienced in the anthropological discipline. But Rapongan’s “nomadic body” is more like a concrete version of a nomadic imaginary: having realized that the Tao were culturally and historically more a people of migration than a sedentary one, he goes on a trip to the Pacific region (Philippine archipelago, Island of Guam, Yap archipelago, Solomon Islands, Cook Islands, Society Islands, Hawaii, Tahiti or the Batanes islands).His return is now a departure, and his living environment is forever extended:

  • 42 Syaman Rapongan, 2007, p. 93.

如此的航海夢的實現從我們蘭嶼達悟人的觀念說是:mankeskeran,詞意是肉體和靈魂過境或是入境許多個島嶼。42

[The realization of such a sailing dream can be explained for Tao people by the idea of mankeskeran, which means that bodies and souls transit or entry into many islands.]

  • 43 Syaman Rapongan, Heise de chibang黑色的翅膀, Taipei : Lianhe wenxue, 2009 (1999), p. 112.

23Apart from The Face of the Navigator which details, among others, Rapongan’s trip and the reasons why he had the idea for it, two of his novels published in 1999 and 2012 respectively are also relevant to this metaphorical nomadism. In both novels, archipelagic dreams appear under fictional form. In the first, Black Wings, Rapongan tells the story of a group of Tao teenagers, dreaming of travels and adventures across the oceans, especially those of Kaswal, whose wish is to go “piss on all the islands of the world’s oceans.”43A few pages later, a sudden metafictional comment interrupts the flow of the story:

  • 44 Syaman Rapongan, 2009, p. 164.

世界地圖是什麼意思一個島接一個島在洋洲他們皆有共同的理想便是漂泊在海上在自己島的海面在其他小島的海面去追逐內心裡難以言表的對於海的情感。也許是從祖先傳下來的話。」44

[What does the “world map” mean? A chain of islands in an oceanic continent. All share the same ideal: drift on its own surface or on other small surfaces along with the current, in quest fort the most buried and unspeakable feelings for the sea. These are maybe words passed down from the ancestors.]

  • 45 Huang Hsinya, “Representing Indigenous Bodies”, 2010, p. 16-17.

24These dreams seem to be metaphorically realized in the second novel, where in some sections, humans are like jacks, flying fishes or whales: oceanic (migratory) beings. More than in his previous works, in The Eyes of the Sky, Rapongan attempts to show that differences originally supposed to distinguish between species are blurred and that the living forms they symbolize are nothing more than biological variations, orbiting space to space but always around the same attractive center: the ocean. Syaman Rapongan’s attachment to the Orchid Island is now less organic, in the sense that the island exists only when it is understood as a junction in an archipelagic network, or a step in a Pacific navigation line. Following the migratory routes of his ancestors, Syaman Rapongan’s (real or dreamed) travels tend to transcend national borders.45 Furthermore, the trip is also a postcolonial desire to rewrite the history of maritime navigation as it has been told by Western metanarratives:

  • 46 Syaman Rapongan, 2007, p. 94.

同時目的也在結構歐洲航海史自一四九二年哥倫布被美洲大陸發現以來字句位偉大的航海民族刻意欺壓南島語族千年的航海史詩。46

[At the same time, our purpose was to deconstruct the great European maritime history since the 1492 Columbus discovery of American continent that deliberately cover up the epical maritime histories of Austronesian peoples.]

25This nomadism is at the end related to a criticism on how the Taiwanese government considers the Orchid Island. For Rapongan, the distinction between the small island (小島 xiaodao) and the large island (大島 dadao) as he writes about them is not just a simple matter of scale or size, but more a problem of the difference between the outskirts and the metropolis. Far from being perceived as an island of the same archipelago, the Orchid Island has been considered by successive Taiwanese governments as a politically, economically and ideologically subordinated territory. On the contrary, ideas of smallness, localism or closed communities (ideas that can be found in primitivist discourses) no longer make sense if one considers the Orchid Island as a link in the Pacific islands chain. A view expressed by the Fijian writer Epeli Hau’ofa:

  • 47 Epeli Hau’ofa, We are the ocean: selected works, Manoa, University of Hawai’i Press, 2008, p. 31 ; (...)

The idea of smallness is relative; it depends on what is included and excluded in any calculation of size. […] But if we look at the myths, legends, and oral traditions, indeed the cosmologies of the peoples of Oceania, it becomes evident that they did not conceive of their world in such microscopic proportions. Their universe comprised not only land surfaces but the surrounding ocean as far as they could traverse and exploit it, the underworld with its fire-controlling and earth-shaking denizens, and the heavens above with their hierarchies of powerful gods and named stars and constellations that people could count on to guide their ways across the seas. […] Smallness is a state of mind […] The perpetrators of the smallness view of Oceania have pointed out quite correctly the need for each island state or territory to enter into appropriate forms of specialised production for the world market […].47

Towards an eco-cosmopolitanism?

  • 48 Syaman Rapongan, “Taide wenxue jiaoliu huodong xinde”台德文學交流活動心得, Wen Hsun Literary文訊, n° 299, 2010, (...)

26More recently, Syaman Rapongan has seen himself as a world writer, at a time when other indigenous writers share his people ‘s torment. In 2010, after returning from Germany where he had participated in a transnational cultural exchange, Rapongan told a literary magazine that the issues he addresses in his writing are not exclusively bound to the Tao community, but are also a part of the environmental literature (環境文學huanjing wenxue) and of world literature (世界文學shijie wenxue)48. Still in the preface of The Face of the Navigator, he writes:

  • 49 Syaman Rapongan, 2007, p. 11-12.

我生活在蘭嶼在傳統與現代並行的同時我的民族如同其他世界各地曾經被西方世界殖民的部族一樣面對全球化、現代化的困擾轉型中許多數不清的在萌芽在迅逝等等從作家的視野來說這些就是我的文學場域。49

[I live at Lanyu, in a time where tradition and modernity coexist. My people are like all other peoples of the world once colonized by the Western world, they face the difficulties experienced before globalization and modernity. In this transition period, an uncertain number of things begin to sprout or disappear quickly. From my perspective as a writer, all these phenomena are my literary pasture.]

  • 50 Carmen Flys Junquera, “Wild Cosmopolitan Gardens : Towards a Cosmopolitan Sense of Place”, Tamkang (...)
  • 51 However, the idea of defining Syaman Rapongan as a “writer of the ocean”, as mentioned above, is al (...)

27Rapongan links the fate of his people with those of other oppressed peoples in Taiwan and across the world. His later writing reflects a desire to move towards a future alternative world, but without neglecting the individual and collective experiences of his particular place or cultural community. In her studies on cosmopolitan authors from all around the world, Carmen Flys Junqera writes that “[e]ach writer/character or cosmopolitan subject throws his/her particular complexity into play when reacting to a place. But the point is precisely in the reacting, in deliberately noticing, being open to that dialogical relationship.”50 This argument could be well applied to The Face of the Navigator and to Rapongan’s two latest novels. Indeed, if the vast majority of Rapongan’s works react to “local” problems (on the Orchid Island), this does not mean that his thoughts cannot be considered from a regional or global perspective. The emphasis on the recurrent oceanic issue is, for Rapongan, a way to highlight what Lanyu, Taiwan and other islanders and to a certain extent even other people of the Pacific islands have in common. As such, environmental issues are displaced: from the local to the regional.51 Syaman Rapongan’s trajectories induce the importance of going beyond the issue of “ethnic identity.” His eco-cosmopolitan attempt does not just represent the will to have indigenous villages in reservation areas, but also alternative social policies.

  • 52 Huang Hsinya, “Toward Transpacific Ecopoetics : Three Indigenous Texts”, Comparative Literature Stu (...)
  • 53 Focusing on the specificity of the Caribbean islands, Benítez-Rojo uses the term of “meta-archipela (...)
  • 54 Valerie Kuletz, “The Movement for Environmental Justice in the Pacific Islands”, in Joni Adamson Cl (...)

28At the same time, we can also notice in recent years a change in the analytical tools used by Taiwanese literary critics working on Rapongan’s works. For instance, Huang Hsinya analyzed his novels in a comparative perspective or in – Chadwick Allen’s words – a “transindigenous perspective”, with works from authors such as Linda Hogan, Witi Ihimaera or Epeli Hau’ofa…52 It goes without saying that I also share this approach. In addition, a literary meeting between Rapongan and Martinican writer Roland Brival was organized during the 2008 International Book Fair in Taipei around the theme of “oceanic literature”, which could be a good departure for a comparative analysis of trans-oceanic archipelagic imaginaries53. Comparisons with other Pacific writers are also relevant in the field of environmental justice movements, where the issues raised are necessarily regional and global, such as overfishing, ocean pollution or nuclear waste storage54. Finally, reading Syaman Rapongan’s works from a comparative perspective with other authors whose favorite narrative theme, is also a call for seeing oceanscapes not just as the setting of a story, but as its subject. This reading could maybe be a departure point to fertile oceanic poetics.

Which waves to follow?

29In this study, I attempted to show how the ethnic divisions between populations that were initiated by colonial and national authorities on one hand and ethnical categorization by literary critics on the other, have influenced Syaman Rapongan in his own discursive categories and his literary productions, particularly in regard to how he addresses environmental (oceanic) issues. As Rapongan frequently addresses out of concern, this modern reality is typified by its overfishing, deforestation, and ocean pollution. With the two approaches I mentioned above (primitivist and cosmopolitan), I have tried to show that Rapongan ‘s subjective strategies, used to address environmental issues, relate to the peoples with whom he shares solidarity and how these strategies are constantly changing and sometimes contradictory. From a primitivist approach characterized by his desire to “return” to an ancestral past exclusively bound to a place, Rapongan’s writing now appears to have shifted to a cosmopolitan approach, initiating a process of deterritorialization. Nevertheless, it does not mean that this deterritorialization means a cease in being anchored to a place or cultural community; rather it represents the geographical expansion of these issues. A specific example to illustrate this idea is the fact that since 2008, Rapongan has been invited as a visiting scholar at Taiwan Ocean Research Institute (台灣海洋科技研究中心 Taiwan haiyang keji yanjiu zhongxin), where he makes great effort to reconcile the oceanographic discipline with Tao ritual, social and environmental practices and knowledge. Within this framework, Rapongan has been invited to give lectures in Japan and in the Philippines about the ocean and literature, as a means to diversify the possibilities of a more cosmopolitan eco-ethics and poetics.

30Syaman Rapongan is aware that the movements of history and memory perpetually flow, just like the waves. When memories are brought back by the waves in Cold Sea, Deep Feelings (1997) or Memories of the Waves (2002), they are perceived as legacies from his ancestors. In The Face of Navigator, Rapongan reflects more on what has already gone, what is left and what is to come. Rapongan now carries his home with him. As he likes to say, he is always at home in the ocean. “Sailing” is now Syaman Rapongan’s new way to be and to participate in the world, as if he knew that “at the trough of the waves, he must, at the same time, be the same and the other, the son and the stranger.”

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Bibliographie

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Amselle, Jean-Loup, Rétrovolutions : Essais sur les primitivismes contemporains, Paris : Stock, 2010.

Arnaud, Véronique, “Poissons des hommes et poissons des femmes : À propos des classifications chez les Yami (Botel Tobago, Taïwan)”, in Geistdoerefer, Aliette et al. (eds.), La mer dévorée : Le poisson bon à manger, le poisson bon à penser, Centre d’Ethno-Technologie en Milieux Aquatiques, 2003.

Balibar, Étienne and Wallerstein, Immanuel, Race, nation, classe : Les identités ambigües, Paris : La Découverte, 1997.

Benítez-Rojo, Antonio, The Repeating Island: The Caribbean and the Postmodern Perspective, trans. Maraniss, James, Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1996.

Chiu, Kuei-fen, “The Production of Indigeneity: Contemporary Indigenous Literature in Taiwan and Cross-cultural Inheritance”, The China Quarterly, vol. 200, 2009, p. 1071-1087.

Chiu, Kuei-fen邱貴芬, “ ‘Yuanzhi yuanwei’ de wenhua keti: Xiaman Lanbo ‘an wenzi li de yuanzhumin yinshi wenhua 「原汁原味」的文化課題夏曼藍波安文字裡的原住民飲食文化, in Jiao Tong 焦桐 (ed.), Weijue de tufengwu – “Yinshi wenxue yu wenhua guoji yantaohui” lunwenji 味覺的土風舞「飲食文學與文化國際學術研討會」論文集, Taipei: Eryu wenhua, 2009, p. 194-213.

Descola, Philippe, Par-delà nature et culture, Paris : Gallimard, 2005.

Flys Junquera, Carmen,“Wild Cosmopolitan Gardens: Towards a Cosmopolitan Sense of Place”, Tamkang Review, Vol1,N° 42, 2011, p. 3-26.

Glissant, Édouard, Philosophie de la Relation, Paris : Gallimard, 2009.

Guha, Ramachandra, “Radical Environmentalism and Wilderness Preservation: A Third World Critique”, Environmental Ethics,Vol.1, N° 11, 1989, p. 71-83.

Hau’ofa, Epeli, We are the ocean: selected works, Manoa, University of Hawai’i Press, 2008.

Heise, Ursula K, “The Hitchhiker ‘s Guide to Ecocriticism”, PLMA,Vol.2, N° 121, 2006, p. 503-516.

Huang, Hsinya 黃信雅, “Fengxian, haiyang yu yuanzhumin nengdong: Aipeili . Hau ‘ofa yu Xiaman Lanbo ‘an de ‘qundao zhi yang’” 風險、海洋與原住民能動艾佩利豪琺與夏曼藍波安的「群島之洋」, in Liu Shih-chi 劉石吉, Wang I-chun 王儀君and Chang Chih-wei 張志維 (eds.), Haiyang, kuajie, yu zuyi 海洋、跨界與族裔, Kaohsiung: Guoli zhongshan daxue renwen shehui kexue yanjiu zhongxin, 2010, p. 1-25.

Huang, Hsinya, “Representing Indigenous Bodies in Epeli Hau ‘ofa and Syaman Rapongan”, Tamkang Review, vol. 2, N° 40, 2010, p. 3-19.

Huang, Hsinya, “Toward Transpacific Ecopoetics: Three Indigenous Texts”, Comparative Literature Studies, vol. 50, N° 1, 2013, p. 120-147.

Kuan, Hsiao-jung 關曉榮, Lanyu baogao: 1987-2007 蘭嶼報告:1987-2007. Taipei: Renjian, 2007.

Kuletz, Valerie, “The Movement for Environmental Justice in the Pacific Islands”, in Adamson Clarke, Joni et al. (eds.), The Environmental Justice Reader: Politics, Poetics, and Pedagogy, University of Arizona Press, 2002, p. 125-138.

Lin, Chao-li 林肇豊, “Ruoshi de chuantong zuqun, zhongyao de xiandai zuojia – cong Laohai ren huikan Xiaman Lanbo ‘an chuangzuo lichen de ji xiang yiti 弱勢的傳統族群重要的現代作家從《老海人》回看夏曼藍波安創作歷程的幾項議題, in Mei, Chia-ling 梅家玲 (ed.), Taiwan yanjiu xin shijie – qingnian xuezhe guandian 臺灣研究新視界青年學者觀點, Taipei: Maitian, 2012, p. 229-261.

Mignolo, Walter D., “Globalization, Civilization Process and the Relocation of Languages and Cultures”, in Jameson, Frederic and Miyoshi, Masao (eds.), The Cultures of Globalization, Duke University Press, 1998, p. 31-53.

Norgan, Walis 瓦歷斯諾幹,“Taiwan yuanzhumin wenxue de quzhimin – Taiwanyuanzhumin wenxue yu shehui de chubu guancha” 台灣原住民文學的去殖民台灣原住民文學與社會的初步觀察, in Sun, Ta-chuan 孫大川 (ed.), Taiwan yuanzhuminzu hanyu wenxue xuanji – pinglun juan shang 台灣原住民族漢語文學選集評論卷上, 2003 (1998), Taipei hsien: INK. p. 127-151.

Norden, Christopher, “Ecological Restoration and the Evolution of Postcolonial National Identity in the Maori and Australian Aboriginal Novel”, in Murphy, Patrick D. (ed.), Literature of Nature: an International Sourcebook, Chicago & London: Routledge, 1998, p. 270-276.

Rapongan, Syaman 夏曼藍波安, Hailang de jiyi 海浪的記憶, Taipei: Lianhe wenxue, 2002.

Rapongan, Syaman 夏曼藍波安, Hanghaijia de lian 航海家的臉, Taipei: INK, 2007.

Rapongan, Syaman 夏曼藍波安, Heise de chibang 黑色的翅膀, Taipei: Lianhe wenxue, 2009 (1999).

Rapongan, Syaman 夏曼藍波安, Lenghai qingshen 冷海情深, Taipei: Lianhe wenxue, 1997.

Rapongan, Syaman 夏曼.藍波安, “Taide wenxue jiaoliu huodong xinde” 台德文學交流活動心得, Wen Hsun Literary 文訊, n° 299, 2010, p. 116-120.

Rapongan, Syaman 夏曼.藍波安, Tiankong de yanjing 天空的眼睛, Taipei: Lianjing, 2012.

Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty, “Can the Subaltern Speak”, in Nelson, Cary and Grossberg, Lawrence (eds.), Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture, Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1988, p. 271-313.

Web pages:

http://e-info.org.tw/node/43985

http://www.dmtip.gov.tw/Eng/Tao.htm

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Notes

1 Special thanks to Chang Ti-han, Jon Solomon and Carsten Storm for their precious advices during the redaction process.

2 Ramachandra Guha, “Radical Environmentalism and Wilderness Preservation : A Third World Critique”, Environmental Ethics, vol. 1, N° 11, 1989, p. 71-83.

3 In The Environmental Justice Reader: Politics, Poetics, and Pedagogy, the editors of the book define “environmental justice as the right of all people to share equally in the benefits bestowed by a healthy environment. We define the environment, in turn, as the places in which we live, work, play, and worship. Environmental justice initiatives specifically attempt to redress the disproportionate incidence of environmental contamination in communities of the poor and/or communities of color, to secure for those affected the right to live unthreatened by risks posed by environmental degradation and contamination, and to afford equal access to natural resources that sustain life and culture. As members of marginalized communities have mobilized around issues of environmental degradation affecting their families, communities, and work sites, they have illuminated the crucial intersections between ecological and social justice concerns.” p. 4).

4 Ursula K. Heise, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Ecocriticism”, PLMA, vol. 2, N° 121, 2006, p. 510.

5 For Syaman Rapongan : http://opinion.cw.com.tw/blog/profile/66/article/208. For Walis Norgan : Walis Norgan 瓦歷斯諾幹 , “Taiwan yuanzhumin wenxue de quzhimin – Taiwanyuanzhumin wenxue yu shehui de chubu guancha” 台灣原住民文學的去殖民台灣原住民文學與社會的初步觀察, in Sun Ta-chuan 孫大川 (ed.), Taiwan yuanzhuminzu hanyu wenxue xuanji – pinglun juan shang 台灣原住民族漢語文學選集評論卷上, 2003 (1998), Taipei hsien : INK. p. 127-151.

6 Sanwen is a kind of Chinese literary genre that is an intersection between literary essays and prose poetry. Sanwen are pretended to be non-fictional and often deals with daily life and philosophical concerns.

7 Furthermore, as we shall see, many critics use the alleged non-fictionality of the literary essay to affirm the truth of an immanent Tao subject, and forget Syaman Rapongan’s “everyday life” narratives are still filtered through the technology of literary writing. As Spivak rightly reminds : “To say that the subject is a text does not authorize the converse pronouncement : that the verbal text is a subject” : Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, “Can the Subaltern Speak”, in Cary Nelson and Lawrence Grossberg (eds.), Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture, Urbana : University of Illinois Press, 1988, p. 297. The question of the fictionality of sanwen in Taiwan indigenous literature is a big issue that deserves more discussions. However, it is not only a “Taiwanese” issue : following Jon Adamson Clarke, the problem is similar in Native American nature writings : Joni Adamson Clarke, “Toward an Ecology of Justice : Transformative Ecological Theory and Practice” in Michael P. Branch et al. (eds.), Reading the Earth: New Directions in the Study of Literature and the Environment, Moscow : University of Idaho Press, 1998, p. 11.).

8 The Tao are a Taiwanese aboriginal people. They are linguistically considered as Austronesian, but they are culturally closer to the Ivatan people of the Batanes islands in the Philippines than to other indigenous peoples on the main island of Taiwan. Most of them live in the small island of Pongso no Tao, approximately 42 km in diameter in the South of Taiwan.

9 For more than 30 years, Taipower (Taidian gongsi 台電公司) has stored low-level radioactive waste drums rom on Lanyu Island from three of its operating nuclear power plants. For more information, see Kuan Hsiao-jung 關曉榮, Lanyu baogao: 1987-2007 蘭嶼報告:1987-2007. Taipei : Renjian, 2007.

10 In an article published in 2012, Lin Chao-li 林肇豊, outlines the place Rapongan holds in Taiwanese literary academic circle. Lin provides a critical overview on the various discussions and fantasies about Rapongan’s work in the Taiwanese literary circle :Lin Chao-li 林肇豊, “Ruoshi de chuantong zuqun, zhongyao de xiandai zuojia – cong Laohai ren huikan Xiaman Lanbo ‘an chuangzuo lichen de ji xiang yiti 弱勢的傳統族群.重要的現代作家-從《老海人》回看夏曼.藍波安創作歷程的幾項議題, in Mei Chia-ling 梅家玲 (ed.), Taiwan yanjiu xin shijie – qingnian xuezhe guandian 臺灣研究新視界-青年學者觀點, Taipei : Maitian, 2012, p. 229-261.

11 See Balibar and Wallerstein ‘s concept of “fictive ethnicity” : Étienne Balibar and Immanuel Wallerstein, Race, nation, classe : Les identités ambigües, Paris : La Découverte, 1997, p. 130-135.

12 Chiu Kuei-fen, “The Production of Indigeneity : Contemporary Indigenous Literature in Taiwan and Cross-cultural Inheritance”, The China Quarterly, vol. 200, 2009, p. 1071-1087 and Chiu Kuei-fen邱貴芬, “ ‘Yuanzhi yuanwei’ de wenhua keti : Xiaman Lanbo ‘an wenzi li de yuanzhumin yinshi wenhua 「原汁原味」的文化課題:夏曼.藍波安文字裡的原住民飲食文化, in Jiao Tong 焦桐 (ed.), Weijue de tufengwu – “Yinshi wenxue yu wenhua guoji yantaohui lunwenji” 味覺的土風舞-「飲食文學與文化國際學術研討會」論文集, Taipei : Eryu wenhua, 2009, p. 194-213.

13 “The name ‘Yami ‘ first appeared in a report written by a Japanese scholar, Torii Ryuzo, after he paid his first visit to Orchid Island in the twenty third year of Emperor Guangxu ‘s reign (1897) during the Qing dynasty. Ever since then, ‘Yami ‘ became the tribal name for the aboriginals on the island and was used extensively in official documents and academic periodicals. However, the indigenous people on the island call themselves Tao, meaning ‘human’ or ‘people’ on the island.” http://www.dmtip.gov.tw/Eng/Tao.htm

14 Nevertheless, the fact that Syaman Rapongan strives to return to his Tao roots and to become, a “real Tao man” (Rapongan, 2007 : 213) as I will detail later, is contradictory : if he writes so, he is, by definition, not yet a Tao man and it thus implies the idea of a process of “becoming” and not of a biological inheritance.

15 Syaman Rapongan, Lenghai qingshen 冷海情深, Taipei : Lianhe wenxue, p. 64 ; 213.

16 Han 漢 people (also called “Chinese” people) is the Taiwan main ethnic group, even ifit is more heterogeneous than it is pretended to be. Han represents 98 % of the Taiwanese population. As the reader can easily imagine, most of Syaman Rapongan’s readers and critics are “Han”.

17 Syaman Rapongan, 1997, p. 99.

18 Jean-Loup Amselle, Rétrovolutions : Essais sur les primitivismes contemporains.Paris : Stock, 2010, p. 87.

19 Christopher Norden, “Ecological Restoration and the Evolution of Postcolonial National Identity in the Maori and Australian Aboriginal Novel”, in Patrick D. Murphy (ed.), Literature of Nature: an International Sourcebook, Chicago & London : Routledge, 1998, p. 270.

20 “Rather, restoration involves a relearning-indeed a renarrativizing-of traditional ecologies of human community and natural world, with the end result being the restoration of a traditional balance between individual, community, and land base. Ecological and cultural restoration are two sides of the same coin : both are equally necessary elements in the development of a national identity capable of acknowledging its own conflicted history while at the same time being strengthened rather than factionalized by its diversity”(Christopher Norden, 1998,p.271).

21 Syaman Rapongan, 1997, p. 213.

22 English translation is Huang Hsin-ya’s : Huang Hsinya, “Representing Indigenous Bodies in Epeli Hau ‘ofa and Syaman Rapongan”, Tamkang Review, vol. 2, N° 40, 2010, p. 14.

23 Chiu Kuei-fen, “‘Yuanzhi yuanwei’ de wenhua keti”, 2009.

24 Syaman Rapongan, Tiankong de yanjing天空的眼睛, Taipei : Lianjing, 2012, p. 70.

25 Syaman Rapongan, Hanghaijia de lian航海家的臉, Taipei : INK, 2007, p. 197.

26 Syaman Rapongan, 2007, p. 177-180 ; 2012, p. 196.

27 Syaman Rapongan, 2007, p. 169-171.

28 What Descola calls an animist ontology design the conception for which the social attributes of nonhuman make them (as much as humans) “the terms of a relationship”. In animist ontologies, there is continuity between human and other existing being sinteriorities, but with different physicalities : Philippe Descola, Par-delà nature et culture, Paris : Gallimard, 2005.

29 Syaman Rapongan, 1997, p. 129.

30 Syaman Rapongan, 1997, p. 129.

31 Syaman Rapongan, Hailang de jiyi海浪的記憶, Taipei : Lianhe wenxue, 2002, p. 225.

32 Even if the meanings of these sentences may appear very clear, one should not forget that they must be seen in their aesthetic context. Syaman Rapongan’s attempt to re-evaluate Tao “ecological knowledge” is inscribed in an aesthetical – and sometimes fictional – agenda that can’t be neglected. Despite the high interest of their analysis, it is such a mistake that both Huang Hsinya’s and Chiu Kuei-fen’s articles often make.

33 Syaman Rapongan, 2007, p. 177.

34 This aspect is an extremely recurring element in Rapongan’s works, and is probably the element that stands out as one of the most “eco-sustainable” practices in Tao culture.For more details about Tao fish-eating culture, see Véronique Arnaud, “Poissons des hommes et poissons des femmes : À propos des classifications chez les Yami (Botel Tobago, Taïwan)”, in Aliette Geistdoerfer et al. (eds.), La mer dévorée: Le poisson bon à manger, le poisson bon à penser, Centre d’Ethno-Technologie en Milieux Aquatiques, 2003.Again, it is necessary to recall than Rapongan ‘s literary works are by no means anthropological data, but they echo anthropological realities by appropriating and negotiating them in the process of writing.

35 Syaman Rapongan, 2007, p. 192.

36 For the concept of “archipelagic thought” (“pensée archipélique”), see for instance Édouard Glissant, Philosophie de la Relation, Paris : Gallimard, 2009.

37 Walter D. Mignolo, “Globalization, Civilization Process and the Relocation of Languages and Cultures”, in Frederic Jameson and Masao Miyoshi (eds.), The Cultures of Globalization, Duke University Press, 1998, p. 44.

38 Syaman Rapongan, 2007, p. 180.

39 Syaman Rapongan, 2007, p. 8.

40 Syaman Rapongan, 2007, p. 9.

41 Chiu Kuei-fen, “The Production of Indigeneity”, 2009, p. 7.

42 Syaman Rapongan, 2007, p. 93.

43 Syaman Rapongan, Heise de chibang黑色的翅膀, Taipei : Lianhe wenxue, 2009 (1999), p. 112.

44 Syaman Rapongan, 2009, p. 164.

45 Huang Hsinya, “Representing Indigenous Bodies”, 2010, p. 16-17.

46 Syaman Rapongan, 2007, p. 94.

47 Epeli Hau’ofa, We are the ocean: selected works, Manoa, University of Hawai’i Press, 2008, p. 31 ; 38.

48 Syaman Rapongan, “Taide wenxue jiaoliu huodong xinde”台德文學交流活動心得, Wen Hsun Literary文訊, n° 299, 2010, p. 120.

49 Syaman Rapongan, 2007, p. 11-12.

50 Carmen Flys Junquera, “Wild Cosmopolitan Gardens : Towards a Cosmopolitan Sense of Place”, Tamkang Review, Vol1, N° 42, 2011, p. 23.

51 However, the idea of defining Syaman Rapongan as a “writer of the ocean”, as mentioned above, is also registered in a (rather Taiwanese nationalist) Taiwanese cultural discourse of de-sinizating Taiwan. The use of the distinctive marker of the ocean (oceanic culture, oceanic country) as opposed to a mainland culture is common among supporters of a narrative reconstruction of a “Taiwanese (national) identity” (see also Chiu Kuei-fen, “The Production of Indigeneity”, 2009).

52 Huang Hsinya, “Toward Transpacific Ecopoetics : Three Indigenous Texts”, Comparative Literature Studies, vol. 50, N° 1, 2013, p. 121.

53 Focusing on the specificity of the Caribbean islands, Benítez-Rojo uses the term of “meta-archipelago” : (“[…] the Caribbean is not a common archipelago, but a meta-archipelago […] and as meta-archipelago it has the virtue of having neither a boundary nor a center.”) (Antonio Benítez-Rojo, The Repeating Island: The Caribbean and the Postmodern Perspective, trans. James Maraniss, Durham and London : Duke University Press, 1996, p. 4). It could of course be put in perspective with the Pacific “meta-archipelago”.

54 Valerie Kuletz, “The Movement for Environmental Justice in the Pacific Islands”, in Joni Adamson Clarke et al. (eds.), The Environmental Justice Reader: Politics, Poetics, and Pedagogy, 2002, p. 125-138.

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Gwennaël Gaffric, « Do Waves Have Memories? », TRANS- [En ligne], 16 | 2013, mis en ligne le 06 août 2013, consulté le 17 octobre 2017. URL : http://trans.revues.org/867 ; DOI : 10.4000/trans.867

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Gwennaël Gaffric

Gwennaël Gaffric est actuellement doctorant à l’Institut d’Études Transtextuelles et Transculturelles de l’Université Lyon 3. Ses recherches portent actuellement sur les questions écologiques dans l’écriture taïwanaise contemporaine. Il est également traducteur, notamment de l’écrivain Wu Ming-yi, dont le premier roman traduit en français Les Lignes de navigation du sommeil vient d’être publié (You Feng Éditions) et dont le deuxième, L’Homme aux yeux à facettes sera disponible en 2014 (Stock). 

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