Self-Representation as a Form of Empowerment: A Documentary-making Workshop for Female Marriage Immigrants in Hualien, Taiwan
Chun-Chi Wang(Department of English, National Dong Hwa University)
Since the mid-1980s, there has been a trend towards transnational marriage of Taiwanese men with women from Mainland China and Southeast Asian countries. These female marriage immigrants, however, have long been stigmatized and stereotyped in the mainstream media. There have been a small number of social documentaries made by Taiwanese filmmakers that provide counter-stereotypical representations of the female marriage immigrants. In addition to that, handing control of the camera over to the women themselves has been considered another solution to counter mainstream bias. In light of this, there have been quite a few documentary-making workshops in both the public and private sectors offered to these women. This article begins with an examination of several social documentaries on female marriage immigrants, to argue that self-representation does not guarantee opposition to the mainstream ideal of assimilation or Taiwanization. Any attempt to indoctrinate the participating female marriage immigrants to produce anti-mainstream content, despite the good intentions of the workshops’ operators, can be a violation of ethical boundaries. In this paper I reflect upon my own experience as a facilitator in a documentary-making workshop that aims to empower female marriage immigrants in Hualien. I argue that the significance of this form of empowerment is two-fold: first, it allows female marriage immigrants to develop and display certain capabilities that have long been suppressed and undervalued. Second, creating a self-representation in the form of a documentary film allows the women to gain cultural capital with which to negotiate the social and cultural discourses in their families and in the society around them.
self-representation, documentary-making as empowerment, ethics, female marriage immigrants, capability approach