Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2016

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

American Studies

First Advisor

Birrell, Susan

First Committee Member

Parratt, Catriona

Second Committee Member

Whaley, Deborah

Third Committee Member

Oates, Thomas

Fourth Committee Member

Vogan, Travis


This dissertation examines media narratives of Chien-Ming Wang, Yani Tseng, and Jeremy Lin as the entry point for interrogating the construction of transnational Taiwanese identity through modern sports. On the one hand, the (re-)articulation of Taiwanese nationalism has been reproduced and driven through the sporting success of these sporting figures. On the other hand, their national identities, their physical movements across national borders, and their sporting performances—mainly on American soil—also trouble the orthodox notion of nation and nationalism. Through examining media texts published in the United State and Taiwan, I argue that a fluid and flexible transnational Taiwanese identity has emerged. Although global capitalism and transnational corporations have been the leading forces of such media discourses, nation and nationalism still largely regulate and define the ways in which meanings are produced and consumed in these localities. More importantly, I contend that the power imbalance—politically, economically, and culturally—between America and Asia should be critically foregrounded in this conjuncture. In sum, the United States' intervention in Asia during the Cold War era and Taiwan's special status in this historical period still have a lasting effect in contemporary Taiwanese societies. The “light of Taiwan” discourses revolving around Wang, Tseng, and Lin could be understood as a continuation of U.S. cultural imperialism and hegemony since the end of the World War II. Meanwhile, transnational capital and a relatively new Taiwanese nationalism also played prominent roles in these nationalistic celebrations in contemporary Taiwan.

Public Abstract

This dissertation examines the cultural meanings of three athletes—Chien-Ming Wang, Yani Tseng, and Jeremy Lin—who are enthusiastically celebrated in contemporary Taiwan. While all of them are dubbed “light of Taiwan,” the ways they are celebrated and consumed in Taiwan and beyond reveal a fluid and flexible transnational Taiwanese identity has emerged. I argue that this phenomenon indicates the emergence of Taiwanese sporting nationalism, which has been in line with the rise of Taiwanese nationalism since the 1980s. However, Taiwanese sporting nationalism in contemporary Taiwan needs to be understood in the context of global capitalism and U.S. cultural hegemony. In this regard, transnational corporations and sports leagues and associations such as Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Basketball Association (NBA), and the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) play significant roles in pushing forward this new phase of Taiwanese nationalism.


publicabstract, cultural hegemony, Taiwanese sporting nationalism, transnationality, US-Taiwan relations


vi, 167 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 151-167).


Copyright 2016 Yu-Kuei Sun