Imagining Interethnic Families in Colonial Taiwan

Ms Alison Darby1

1The Australian National University, Australia

From as early as 1919, Japanese government authorities in colonial Taiwan explicitly endorsed marriages between Japanese and their Taiwanese colonial subjects. Existing research has highlighted how interethnic marriage served as a powerful symbol of the ‘harmonious integration’ of Japan and Taiwan [naitai yūwa, 内台融和]. How ordinary Japanese and Taiwanese living in colonial Taiwan understood and responded to this policy, however, remains underexplored. This paper analyses popular sentiment on interethnic marriage by examining discussions of interethnic relationships in the marital advice columns of popular newspapers, such as Taiwan nichinichi shinpō [臺湾日日新報]. Marital advice columns can provide a glimpse into the contradictory ways in which interethnic relationships were positioned as simultaneously a source of racial anxiety and something to aspire to. This paper will emphasise how, despite strong endorsements of interethnic marriage, marital advice columns revealed deep anxieties over intimate relationships between Japanese and colonial subjects within the empire, and the place of interethnic families in the imagined imperial future.



Alison J. Darby is a doctoral candidate in Pacific and Asian History at the School of Culture, History and Language at The Australian National University. She has previously held positions as a Visiting Researcher at the Institute of Taiwan History, Academia Sinica and as a Visiting Researcher at the Institute of Comparative Culture, Sophia University, where she conducted archival research for her dissertation. Her doctoral research focuses on eugenic ideology and interethnic marriage in the Japanese empire from 1919 to 1945.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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