skip to content

Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

Room LG18, Faculty of Law
Event date: 
Thursday, 2 May, 2024 - 14:00
Event organiser: 

2024 Chuan Lyu Lectures in Taiwan Studies

Border Imagination

Taiwan on the Frontline

Professor LIN Wei-ping, National Taiwan University

[ combined series poster ]

Lecture Two

Gambling and Affect in the Cold War Matsu Islands

[ poster ]

This paper examines gambling and affect by drawing on ethnography from Matsu (馬祖), a small archipelago in the Taiwan Strait. To begin with, I situate gambling within the contexts of island ecology and fishing economy, showing how gambling can on the one hand be a source of leisure and relaxation, and on the other hand be embedded within a maritime world as a way to train fishermen to dare to take risks, an essential attribute of their profession which requires ceaseless struggle in the ocean. When the army came to Matsu in 1949 and placed the island under military administration, although the fishing industry underwent a steep decline, gambling spread to all walks of life, continuing unabated despite every attempt of the military government to stamp it out.

The second part of this paper considers the significance of gambling in periods of historical and social change. I argue that gambling during the warzone period became a new space of affect and resistance. I re-interpret the ethnography in Island Fantasia (Lin 2021) through the lens of affect to show that gambling released the smothering inhibitions and oppressions of military rule and offered new possibilities for, and imaginaries of, resistance. While writing about affect and emotion, I do not always strictly differentiate these terms, but interweave them to highlight the juxtaposition of conscious/unconscious intensity that energizes the island life and its transitions and transformations.


LIN Wei-pingLIN Wei-ping 

is Professor of Anthropology at the National Taiwan University and Director of Humanities and Social Sciences, National Science Council, Taiwan. She received her PhD in social anthropology from the University of Cambridge in 1998. Her research interests are in kinship, religion and issues of place and space among the Han Chinese in Taiwan. Religious aspects in particular are the main foci and include religious change, healing cults, and sacred objects (god statues). In recent years she has been carrying out research in a military base on an off-shore island in Taiwan, exploring issues relating to de/militarization, violence, and the state. Her publications include Materializing Magic Power: Chinese Popular Religion in Villages and Cities (Harvard University Asia Center 2015) [Chinese version《靈力具現:鄉村與都市中的民間宗教》NTU Press 2020]; Island Fantasia: Imagining Subjects on the Military Frontline between China and Taiwan (Cambridge University Press 2021) [Chinese version 《島嶼幻想曲:戰地馬祖的想像主體與未來》春山出版 2023]. Both monographs won Scholarly Monograph Awards in the Humanities and Social Sciences given by Academia Sinica. She also edited 《媒介宗教──音樂、影像、物與新媒體》(NTU Press 2018);《氛圍的感染──感官經驗與宗教的邊界》(co-editor; NTU Press 2022).

Her full profile can be found here:

The annual Chuan Lyu Lectures in Taiwan Studies is generously funded by the Chuan Lyu Foundation

Professor Adam Yuet Chau:

Related content