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Matsu in early times was not an immigrant society but rather a stopover or temporary place to live, with people coming and going in a constant state of flux. Lying beyond the reaches of state power, the islands were almost deserted, becoming a lawless place where “the strongest fist took everything.” The island society during this period was characterized by transience and brokenness. The history of Matsu in this period is reviewed.
During the army’s warzone administration of Matsu, the fishing economy of the islands faced severe challenges. Taiwan started the process of industrialization in the 1970s and required a larger labor force, and many Matsu locals moved there—mostly to Taoyuan—to work in factories. Those who stayed behind on the islands shifted their forms of livelihood toward offering goods and services to the military.
Although many of the individual imaginations discussed in previous chapters have not developed into social imaginaries, the imagining subjects do not easily fade away; they remain latent and may garner renewed power at unexpected moments.
This introductory chapter focuses on theoretical issues related to the imagining subject, discussing its subjectification processes and varied uses of mediating technologies to constitute new social imaginaries.
This chapter discusses the newly invented religious practices that are the imaginary reconstitutions of cross-strait realities. I consider that the significances of these new rituals, myths, and material practices rests not on whether they succeed, but rather on the subjectivity they convey when people are faced with predicaments; they mediate social relations, rescale regional interactions, and forge possible developments for the islands in the future.
This chapter probes how old, conflicted, and fragmented social units in an island settlement came to be integrated after the era of military control ended, and how they formed a new community through the process of temple building.
In 1949, the Nationalist army abruptly arrived in Matsu and indelibly changed the fate of the islands. This chapter analyzes how military rule dramatically transformed the lives of the local people from a spatial perspective.
This chapter discusses how the internet publication, Matsu Online, has exerted unprecedented influence in these islands. Via online media, Matsu has transformed itself from a peripheral archipelago and a Cold War “anticommunist frontline” into a place with its own value and worth.
This chapter examines gambling from the perspective of Matsu’s ethnography. I locate the Matsu people’s gambling habits in the context of the island’s ecology and society, showing that gambling was embedded in the fishermen’s lives early on. It was elaborated during the warzone administration period to coordinate with and subvert the oppressive and tedious rhythms of a society controlled by the army.
This chapter analyzes how a Matsu county commissioner attempted to resolve the transportation difficulties of Matsu residents by ushering in a gaming plan proposed by an American venture capitalist—“Mediterranean Asia Casino Resort.” I also present three strikingly different imaginaries of Matsu’s future conceived by three different generations.