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The twenty-five Ladies’ Tomb was the collective burial site of female workers who were drowned during a ferry accident on their way to work at export processing zones in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, in 1973. This essay focuses on the renovation of the tomb in the 2000s, and examines the politics of the feminist movement and the politics of memory as they are expressed through the different meanings bestowed on the deceased women. People involved in the renovation process included the Kaohsiung Association for the Promotion of Women’s Rights (KAPWR), the families of the deceased, and the Kaohsiung City government, all of whom had different considerations regarding the purpose and the future of the tomb. This essay argues the KAPWR activism illustrates the fact that specific feminist praxis is dependent on the socio-cultural and political-economic attributes of the society within which feminist groups are embedded. The KAPWR’s effort to refashion the image of the tomb resonates with feminist movements worldwide to rectify women’s history by rewriting the valorizing the contribution of women. Specifically, it was a critique of the Taiwanese patriliny that treasures sons as true and permanent members, but regards daughters as outsiders and thus temporary associates, of their father’s family. This symbolic differentiation has provided a framework on which many gender-based practices are constituted and justified. The approach of the KAPWR activism was therefore a strategic choice borne out of the particular context of Taiwan that, in turn, created the possibility to question patrilineal cultural practices.



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